Presentation on theme: "1 Is Abortion Wrong? II. 2 Thomson’s Project Thomson grants for the sake of argument the premise that a fertilized egg is a person. Thomson challenges."— Presentation transcript:
1 Is Abortion Wrong? II
2 Thomson’s Project Thomson grants for the sake of argument the premise that a fertilized egg is a person. Thomson challenges the idea that one can argue effectively from this premise to the conclusion that all abortion is morally impermissible. Thomson claims that the “Basic Argument” cannot justify the notion that all abortion is morally impermissible. Judith Jarvis Thomson: “A Defense of Abortion”
3 The “Basic Argument” (95) The squidge is a person and every person has a right to life. Therefore, the squidge has a right to life. The mother has a right to decide what happens in and to her body. But the squidge’s right to life outweighs the mother’s right to decide what happens in and to her body. Therefore, the squidge may not be killed; an abortion may not be performed.
4 Thomson suggests the following (minimal case): Sometimes abortion is morally permissible: at least in (some?) cases where an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother, and (some?) cases where pregnancy stems from rape.
5 The “Extreme View” (96) Abortion is morally impermissible, even where it is necessary to save the mother’s life. The Basic Argument does not justify the Extreme View. The Basic Argument does not invoke the mother’s right to life, which, along with the squidge’s, cannot both be satisfied.
6 Another Argument in Support of the “Extreme View” (96) 1.In killing the squidge, one would be directly killing an innocent person. 2.Directly killing an innocent person is murder. 3.Murder is morally impermissible. 4.Therefore, killing the squidge is morally impermissible. Thomson claims this argument also fails. Suppose a woman has become pregnant, but learns she has a heart condition such that she will die if she carries the squidge to term.
7 The Famous Violinist Thought Experiment Version 1: The violinist will die if unplugged. Version 2: Saving the violinist is killing you. You are kidnapped by the Society of Music Lovers, plugged into a world-famous violinist to share your kidney. Thomson attacks the second premise of the Argument for the Extreme View (directly killing an innocent person is murder), or possibly the third premise (murder is morally impermissible). Directly killing the violinist is not morally impermissible. So, directly killing an innocent is not always morally impermissible. Thought Experiment: Argument from analogy.
8 The Famous Violinist Thought Experiment “If anything in the world is true, it is that you do not commit murder, you do not do what is impermissible if you reach around your back and unplug yourself from that violinist to save your life.” (97) So at least in the case of rape-induced pregnancy, an abortion would not be morally impermissible. This alone is enough to show the Argument for the Extreme View fails. So we should reject the Extreme View.
9 What the Right to Life is Not The right to life does not include a right to be given at least the bare minimum of what one needs for continued life (98- 99). If it did, then there would be a very short argument to prohibiting abortion except in cases where the squidge’s life threatened the mother’s life. Even where we grant that the squidge has a right to life…
10 Henry Fonda Thought Experiment Would Henry Fonda be acting in a morally impermissible way if he refused to fly out to put his hand on your fevered brow, given that this is the only way to save your life? We don’t, by having a right to life, have a right to the bare minimum of what we need for continued life. The right to life does not amount to the right not to be killed by anyone. If it did, then there would be a very short argument to prohibiting abortion except perhaps in cases where the squidge’s life threatened the mother’s life.
11 Famous Violinist Thought Experiment Revisited “[T]he fact that for continued life that violinist needs the continued use of your kidneys does not establish that he has a right to be given the continued use of your kidneys.” (99) Just as it would be very nice for Henry Fonda to fly across the country to put his hand to your fevered brow to save your life, it would be very nice if you continue to let the violinist use your kidneys… but he does not have a right to your kidneys, even granted that he has a right to life. Just the same, the squidge’s right to life does not amount to the right to continue to use the mother’s body without her consent.
12 What the Right to Life Is and What this Might Imply About Abortion “[T]he right to life consists not in the right not to be killed, but rather in the right not to be killed unjustly.” (100). in (some) cases in which the squidge threatens the mother’s life; in (some) cases in which the mother’s pregnancy has resulted from rape; and in some cases in which the mother has conscientiously used contraception, but this contraception has failed. If this is what the right to life amounts to, then abortions are morally permissible: So even granting that the squidge has a right to life, for abortions to be shown to be morally impermissible, it must be shown that abortion kills the squidge unjustly.
13 People Seeds Thought Experiment But even this depends on the details. As opposed to cases of pregnancy resulting from rape, it seems reasonable to think that a woman who voluntarily engages in sex with the full knowledge that she might become pregnant, it seems the squidge has some claim to live off of the mother. Suppose people-seeds drifted about in the air like pollen, and if you open your windows, one may drift in and take root in your carpet or upholstery. You don’t want children, so you fit your windows with a fine mesh, the very best you can buy. As it happens, one somehow slips through and takes root. Does this person-plant who now develops have a right to the use of your house?
14 People Seeds Thought Experiment If the people-seeds do not have a right to live and develop in your living room carpet, why should a squidge have a right to live in the womb of a woman who has conscientiously used contraception, but which has failed through no fault of the woman?