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Abortion Vaughn Ch. 7. History Historically, abortion has been a controversial issue. Abortion and euthanasia are forbidden in the Hippocratic oath (written.

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Presentation on theme: "Abortion Vaughn Ch. 7. History Historically, abortion has been a controversial issue. Abortion and euthanasia are forbidden in the Hippocratic oath (written."— Presentation transcript:

1 Abortion Vaughn Ch. 7

2 History Historically, abortion has been a controversial issue. Abortion and euthanasia are forbidden in the Hippocratic oath (written 400 BCE) –p253Abortion and euthanasia are forbidden in the Hippocratic oath (written 400 BCE) –p253 Aristotle recommended abortion “before life and sense have begun” for families with too many children. –p253Aristotle recommended abortion “before life and sense have begun” for families with too many children. –p253 2

3 History Vaughn claims the Hebrew and Christian scriptures do not denounce abortion, citing Exodus 21. Whether those scriptures prohibit abortion is too difficult a question for here Vaughn’s interpretation is too quick, and it is not well done. 3

4 History Vaughn leaves out crucial information that provides context. He says: “Exodus 21:22 says that if a man causes a woman to have a miscarriage, ‘but [she] is not harmed in any other way,’ the penalty is just a fine.” –p253 But, the passage actually says: “And if men struggle with each other and strike a woman with child so that she has a miscarriage, yet there is no [further] injury, he shall surely be fined …” -NASB Does Vaughn’s version seem equivalent? Might there be serious translation questions? 4

5 History Aquinas believed the “ensoulment” of a fetus happened in stages. At conception life is vegetative, then it developsvegetative, then it develops lower sensitive life,lower sensitive life, more advanced sensitive life, etc.,more advanced sensitive life, etc., until, at 40 days for males (90 days for females), God directly imparts a rational soul to the fetus. So, while Aquinas says abortion is always wrong, it is only murder after 40 days for males, 90 days for females http://www2.franciscan.edu/plee/aquinas_on_human_ensoulment.htm For a scholarly discussion of Aquinas on abortion, see link http://www.pregnancy.org/fetaldevelopment 5

6 History “In English Common Law, abortion was considered a crime only if performed after quickening …” –p253 Quickening =df historically, when the mother can detect movement initiated by the fetus (20 weeks gestation) Anima = Latin, ‘breath’; anemos = Greek, ‘wind’ ‘Animal soul’ is the principle of self-motion So, a fetus is ‘quickened’ when it receives or develops the power of self-motion, an animal soul (9 weeks gestation, though not detectable by the mother) http://www.pregnancy.org/fetaldevelopment 6

7 history In England, Henry de Bracton, who lived at the same time as Aquinas, affirmed the killing of a fetus after quickening was murder. But “practically every” major legal writer thereafter claimed it was not murder “at common law.” (see link below) Not until the early 1800s did England have a law saying abortion of a quickened fetus was murder, punishable by death. (see link below) http://law.jrank.org/pages/445/Abortion-Abortion-in-English-law.html Warning: unsure of quality of source 7

8 Definitions “ Abortion is the ending of a pregnancy.” –p255 Spontaneous abortion or miscarriage = abortion due to birth defects or injury. Induced abortion = intentional abortion Therapeutic abortion = intentional abortion for the life or health of the mother What’s wrong here? 8

9 Roe vs. Wade Roe vs. Wade is the landmark court case begun in Texas between Norma McCorvey (Jane Roe ), and Texas (represented by the Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade ) Based on a disputed right to privacy found in the 14 th Amendment, the Supreme Court determined abortion should be legal by choice in the first trimester,legal by choice in the first trimester, restricted by therapeutic concerns in the second trimester,restricted by therapeutic concerns in the second trimester, restricted by therapeutic needs in the thirdrestricted by therapeutic needs in the third 9

10 Arguments 1.Who has the burden of proof in the battle over abortion rights? 2.Standing presumption? 3.Who asserted first? 4.What does ‘conservative’ mean in this argument? 5.What does ‘liberal’ mean here? 10

11 argument 1 Vaughn’s first “conservative” argument: Killing Innocents Argument (p258): 1.The killing of an innocent human being is wrong; 2.the unborn is an innocent human being; 3.therefore, it is wrong to kill the unborn What does Vaughn find wrong with this argument? Which fallacy does he think is committed? 11

12 argument 2 Vaughn presents this argument as an improvement of Argument 1: Killing Innocent Persons Argument (p258-259): 1.The killing of an innocent person is wrong; 2.the unborn is an innocent person; 3.therefore, it is wrong to kill the unborn For Vaughn, what’s wrong with the argument? Which premise is disputed? 12

13 Noonan's defense of argument 2 Receipt of genetic code is what makes someone a “human” or “man” (the equivalent of a person): Noonan’s Argument : “It is this genetic information which: 1.determines his characteristics 2.is the biological carrier of the possibility of human wisdom 3.makes him a self-evolving being.” –John C. Noonan (see Vaughn, p259, fn 5) 13

14 non-sequitur response to noonan? Vaughn’s Response to Noonan’s argument is to reject sorites arguments (p259). We can think of a sorites argument as a fallacy, an Argument to the Heap ( soros means heap in Greek): How many grains of rice does it take to make a heap?How many grains of rice does it take to make a heap? Is two enough? No?Is two enough? No? Three? No.Three? No. Can you ever get a heap by adding one grain? No?Can you ever get a heap by adding one grain? No? Then you can never make a heap!?Then you can never make a heap!? Was Noonan’s argument an argument to the heap? What did Noonan argue exactly? 14

15 Better response to noonan? Warren’s Response : Mary Ann Warren argues that the conceptus, or fertilized ovum, “cannot be identified with the embryo … because it is a mass of undifferentiated cells, any of which could give rise to an embryo…. This “pre-embryo” may spontaneously divide, resulting in twins or triplets; alternatively, it may combine with another pre-embryo giving rise to a single fetus.” (see Vaughn, p259, top right) Does this argument show pre-embryos are not persons in Noonan’s sense, or that we can’t tell which part is a person or persons? Both? Neither? Is the use of “spontaneously” question begging? 15

16 Devine’s defense of argument 2 Devine’s Defense : Philip Devine provides a defense of valuing adults and fetuses the same: 1.What makes it wrong to kill someone is the stealing of their future (their potential?) 2.But a fetus has a future no less than an adult 3.So, killing a fetus is wrong for the same reason killing an adult is wrong (supplied conclusion) (see Vaughn, p259, fn 7) Does a fetus have a future the way an adult has a future? 16

17 Is Devine's argument a potentiality argument? Vaughn characterizes Devine’s argument as a “ potentiality argument ”: “A common response to this potentiality argument is that there is a world of difference between (1) possessing a particular trait that gives you a right and (2) having the potential to develop a trait that gives you that right. p259 Is that a fair characterization of Devine’s argument? Is that a fair characterization of Devine’s argument? 17

18 potentiality arguments If someone argues, 1.only persons have rights 2.fetuses are potential persons 3.therefore, fetuses have rights they will be susceptible to Warren’s and Tooley’s criticisms: potential persons are not personspotential persons are not persons having the potential to drive at 18 years old does not give you a right to drive when you’re 12having the potential to drive at 18 years old does not give you a right to drive when you’re 12 But did Devine ever claim such a thing? 18

19 personhood Is merely being a human being, a member of Homo Sapiens, sufficient for personhood? Vaughn says, to think so is to be guilty of a prejudice called speciesism. The liberal argues that since the properties that make us persons could be exhibited by non-humans, merely being a member of the human species cannot be sufficient for personhood.The liberal argues that since the properties that make us persons could be exhibited by non-humans, merely being a member of the human species cannot be sufficient for personhood. And speciesism is a “close cousin to racism.” –p260 (bottom)And speciesism is a “close cousin to racism.” –p260 (bottom) Is this right? Isn’t the conservative position that being Homo Sapiens is sufficient, but not necessary, for personhood? That leaves open the possibility that other species are persons too, right? Speciesism avoided? 19

20 personhood Warren lists features she thinks “most central” to personhood : 1.consciousness and capacity for feeling pain 2.reasoning 3.self-motivated activity 4.capacity to communicate 5.self-concepts, and self-awareness, individual, racial, or both Warren thinks any being missing all of those “is certainly not a person.” -p260 What about someone in a coma? Vaughn mentions the mentally impaired, who may lack all 5. Are they not persons? Can they be killed? … 20

21 personhood The liberal admits their view of personhood makes killing the hopelessly mentally impaired or vegetative permissible. Nonetheless, we protect them for other reasons: because their families care about themtheir families care about them uncertainty about their mental statusuncertainty about their mental status concern to avoid a general devaluing of life –p261concern to avoid a general devaluing of life –p261 Wouldn’t the last reason, especially, also be a reason to prohibit abortion? 21

22 personhood 2 reasons for why the liberal position does not justify infanticide : 1.infants are “very close” to being persons 2.social utility (we, by nature, love babies, and killing them would coarsen us, and it is wrong to coarsen society) –p261 Does that sound like a sufficient account of what would be wrong with killing a baby? 22

23 personhood Between conservative and liberal views, Vaughn mentions moderates. Moderates view personhood as appearing somewhere during fetal development: 1.brainwaves 2.viability 3.gradually on a scale of increasing personhood –p261 Vaughn seems to view these are arbitrary. Is there anything specially relevant about brainwaves or viability? Is the gradual development position reasonable? 23

24 rights Judith Jarvis Thompson argues that even if we grant fetuses person status, their rights do not necessarily trump the rights of others. Read p262, the example of the violinist. What abortion case is this similar to? Michael Tooley Judith Jarvis Thompson 24

25 Rights Consider Michael Tooley’s argument based on an analysis of rights : 1.to have a right you must be the kind of thing that can have an interest (the newspaper has no right not to be torn up because it has no interest in not being torn up … isn’t the kind of thing can can be interested in not being torn up) 2.to have an interest in something, you must desire it 3.fetuses cannot have an interest in continued existence because they cannot desire it 4.fetuses cannot desire continue existence because they cannot have a concept of themselves existing in the future (because they cannot form the concept of a self at all) 5.therefore, the unborn (and some infants), have no right to continued existence (see Tooley, p316) Can a fetus form a concept of itself existing through time? Is such an enduring self necessary for personhood? 25


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