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Introduction to Ethics Lecture 18 Marquis on Abortion

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1 Introduction to Ethics Lecture 18 Marquis on Abortion
By David Kelsey

2 Marquis conclusion Marquis wants to claim that abortion is impermissible. He admits to a few exceptions though: Abortion after rape Abortion during the first 14 days after conception When the mother’s life is at stake When the fetus is anencephalic (congenital malformation of the skull with absence of all or part of the brain.) Marquis also gives us a unique definition of fetus: A developing human being from the time of conception to the time of birth.

3 Marquis on Thomson Against Thomson:
Thomson claims that the fetus’ right to life doesn’t include a right to the use of the woman’s body. Marquis in reply: The right to life of the fetus outweighs the expecting mother’s right to control her own body. “The right to life seems to be stronger right than the right to control one’s own body in the case of abortion because the loss of one’s life is a greater loss than the loss of the right to control one’s own body in one respect for nine months.”

4 Do Fetuses have the right to life?
Marquis considers the fetus’ right to life: One answer: an entity has a right to life if it is genetically human. But then human cancer-cell cultures have a right to life? But what is the connection between being biologically human and having moral rights? The second answer: an entity has a right to life if it is morally human, I.e. a person. But then what about infants, the severely retarded and some of the mentally ill? Marquis in reply to the Contractarian approach: The Contractarian holds that moral rights are only afforded to those who can enter into a moral contract. In Reply: But then how do we account for our duties to entities that aren’t members of the moral community, for example animals?

5 Marquis’ strategy So Marquis thinks that to settle the abortion debate we need to go somewhere besides the question of whether or not the fetus is a person. Marquis solution is to look at what makes killing a person wrong. He thinks that if he can find out what makes killing you or I wrong, then if this also applies to fetuses, Marquis thinks we can claim that abortion is wrong.

6 What makes killing wrong?
What makes killing us wrong? To answer this he asks first: Who is primarily wronged by killing? It isn’t the loss to the family and friends of the victim… It isn’t the brutalization of the killer… Killing someone imposes on that person the misfortune of premature death. How is the victim wronged then? He isn’t deprived of his past life, he is deprived of his future life. But it isn’t the loss of biological life that matters... It is the loss of his future conscious life that matters. The misfortune of premature death robs the victim of the future goods of his conscious life.

7 A future like ours A future like ours:
So what is wrong about killing is that it robs the victim of the future goods of consciousness. These goods are the those items in life toward which we take a pro attitude. Examples: Completed projects of which we are proud The pursuit of our goals Aesthetic enjoyments Friendships Intellectual pursuits Physical pleasures

8 FLO and the fetus What makes killing us wrong then:
It deprives the victim of the future experiences he values. “What makes my future valuable to me are those aspects of my future that I will (or would) value when I will (or would) experience them, whether I value them now or not.” A person can be wrong about the value of their future Say someone judges their future as lacking value because of some personal tragedy. Say they consider harming themselves… In such a case others will often be able to make a clearer judgment of the value of that person’s future than the person herself. “Thus, killing someone is wrong, in general, when it deprives her of a future like ours…” Of course since a fetus has a future like ours it will, in general, be wrong to get an abortion.

9 Arguments in favor of FLO
Arguments in favor of the future like ours account of what makes killing wrong: 1-it fits with our considered judgment concerning the nature of the misfortune of death. Ask victims of an incurable disease and they’ll tell you the loss of a FLO makes their premature death a misfortune. Is this true? 2-it explains why killing is one of the worst of crimes and why the exceptions to the wrongness of killing are so very rare. “My being killed deprives me of more than does my being robbed or beaten or harmed in some other way because my being killed deprives me of all of the value of my future, not merely part of it.” “the FLO account…also explains why killing an adult human being is justified only in the most extreme circumstances, only in circumstances in which the loss of life to an individual is outweighed by a worse outcome if that life is not taken. Thus, we are willing to justify killing in self defense…killing in a just war…capital punishment…if, by having such an institution, fewer premature deaths would occur…”

10 The Appeal to Cases argument
The FLO account also agrees with out intuitions on many cases: FLO says it isn’t wrong to deliberately kill a person who is permanently unconscious. A permanently unconscious patent doesn’t have a future like ours so it is permissible to deliberately kill them. FLO says it is wrong to withdraw medical treatment from persons who are temporarily unconscious. After all, they still have a FLO. FLO permits Active Euthanasia. If a patient faces a future of intractable pain and suffering he doesn’t have a future of positive value. So… FLO on suicide Although the suicidal may not desire a FLO they still have a FLO. So… FLO on aliens If they have a future sufficiently similar to ours it is wrong to kill them. FLO on infants It is just as wrong to kill you when you were an infant as it is wrong to kill you now.

11 An analogy to the argument for the wrongness of cruelty to animals
Why cruelty to animals is wrong: Suffering is a misfortune “It would be as morally arbitrary to refuse to acknowledge that animal suffering is wrong as it would be to refuse to acknowledge that the suffering of persons of another race is wrong.” Thus, Infliction of suffering is wrong (whether upon persons or non-persons.) Thus, cruelty to animals is wrong. Why abortion is wrong: The loss of a future like ours is a misfortune. “It would be as morally arbitrary to refuse to acknowledge that the loss of a future of value to a fetus is wrong as to refuse to acknowledge that the loss of a future of value to Jews is wrong.” To deprive someone of a future of value is wrong (whether adults, Jews or fetuses). Thus, abortion is wrong. If the first argument is convincing so should be the second!

12 Objections The Potentiality objection:
Isn’t the FLO defense of abortion one based on potentiality: 1-Persons have the right to life 2-If Xs have the right to Y, Potential Xs have the right to Y. Thus, 3-Potential persons have the right to life. But 2 is plainly false for potential presidents don’t have the rights of president’s. Marquis Reply: Potentiality doesn’t come in to the FLO argument at premise 2 it is there from the start. 1-Adults have the potential for a future like ours so it is wrong to kill them. 2-Fetuses have the potential for a future like ours. Thus, 3-It is wrong to kill Fetuses.

13 The argument from interests
Fetuses lack interests: Even admitting fetuses have a future like ours, fetuses still lack conscious awareness until the 22nd week 1. Without conscious awareness a fetus cannot have interests. 2. Without interests a fetus cannot have a welfare of its own 3. Without a welfare of its own, nothing can be done for the sake of the fetus. 4. Since nothing can be done for the sake of the fetus, a fetus has no moral standing. Thus, 5. a fetus doesn’t have rights and so abortion is permissible. Marquis reply: To deny premise 1. Neither conscious awareness nor the capacity for conscious awareness is a necessary condition for having interests. Something can be in someone’s interest without that individual being capable of caring about it, or about anything. For example, life support is in the interests of the temporarily unconscious patient…

14 The problem of Equality
A 5 year old has greater positive value in his FLO than does an 89 year old. Thus, it is far worse to kill a 5 year old than it is to kill an 89 year old. But all persons have an equal right to life. Thus, the FLO account of what makes killing wrong is incorrect. Marquis response: Adopting the legal equality for all murders seems practically necessary. Suppose we try to estimate the seriousness of a murder by appraising the value of the FLO of which the victim had been deprived. But how do we do this? We would have to estimate the value of what we estimate the victim’s life experiences would have been were he to have survived. This would surely be difficult. Thus, we have practical reasons for adopting a convention that murders are equally wrong.

15 The Contraception Objection
Contraception results in the loss of a FLO An action that results in the loss of an FLO is wrong Thus, Contraception is wrong Marquis’ reply: At the time of contraception there is no individual to have an FLO Only individuals can be deprived of FLOs. Thus, contraception doesn’t deprive an individual of an FLO Thus, contraception isn’t morally wrong.

16 Countering Marquis reply to the Contraception objection
Remember that Marquis thinks contraception isn’t wrong because it doesn’t deprive any particular individual of an FLO. Counter-reply: The sperm and egg are the individuals deprived of an FLO at the time of contraception Marquis reply: There seems to be no non-arbitrarily determinate subject of harm in the case of successful contraception. Some potential candidates: The combination of the particular sperm and egg which would have joined to form the zygote had contraception not been used. 2 harmed individuals: first the particular sperm and second the egg which would have joined to form the zygote. The millions of combinations of sperm and ovum Thus, there is no determinate thing harmed in contraception. Thus, contraception isn’t wrong.

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