3 Marquis’ Project Thesis: In the overwhelming majority of cases, deliberate abortions are seriously immoral. Marquis chooses to ignore “hard cases” such as those where the life of a woman is threatened by the squidge. Marquis assumes for the sake of argument that whether or not abortion is morally permissible stands or falls on whether a squidge is the sort of being whose life it is seriously wrong to end. As such, Marquis’ argument depends upon his account of when it is seriously wrong to end any life. Don Marquis: “Why Abortion is Immoral”
4 Killing is seriously immoral when it robs the victim of a future of value. Killing a squidge robs the squidge of a future of value. (Aborting a squidge kills the squidge.) Therefore, it is seriously immoral to abort a squidge. The Form of Marquis’ Argument
5 The Wrongness of Killing “[A] necessary condition of resolving the abortion controversy is a more theoretical account of the wrongness of killing.” (68) “Why My Theory is Better than Your Theory” (I) Killing is wrong not because it brutalizes the killer. Killing is wrong not because of the loss to others (family, etc.). Killing is wrong because it robs the victim of “all the experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments that would otherwise have constituted one’s future.” (68) -This would seem to at least be the case with killing any adult human.
6 Killing is wrong because it deprives the victim of his or her future. The activities, experiences, and so on, that would have constituted my future personal life are either valuable for their own sakes, or for the sake of some other thing (which, in turn, is valuable for its own sake). Some parts of my future are valued by me now, and other parts will be valued by me later. When I die, I will be deprived of the value of both. Inflicting this loss on me is ultimately what makes killing me wrong. What makes the killing of any adult human wrong is the loss of his or her future (which has value).
7 That what makes killing wrong is the loss of the victim’s future is supported by: 1.Our intuition that killing is one of the worst possible crimes. 2.The belief held by the dying that dying is very bad for them because it deprives them of future experiences. Implications: 1.This view is incompatible with the problematic view that it is only wrong to kill biologically human beings. 2.This view entails the possibility that the futures of some actual nonhuman mammals on our own planet are sufficiently like ours that it is seriously wrong to kill them also.
8 Implications: 3.This view does not entail the questionable thesis that active euthanasia is wrong. 4.This view straightforwardly entails that it is seriously wrong to kill infants and children (where views depending on a notion of personhood may not). The Argument from Personhood: It is wrong to kill “persons” (usually defined as a thing having rationality, or some particular kinds of desires). If it is wrong to kill persons, it is wrong to kill beings with the potential to become persons. Children and squidges have the potential to become persons. Therefore it is wrong to kill children and squidges. Problematic premise!
9 Since the loss of a future to a squidge, if killed, is at least as great as the loss to a standard adult human, abortion, like ordinary killing, could only be justified by the most compelling reasons. Abortion could be justified in some circumstances only if the loss consequent on failing to abort would be at least as great. Presumably, morally permissible abortions would be very rare, indeed. So abortions should be considered presumably wrong unless it can be shown that failure to abort will result in an even greater loss.
10 “Why My Theory is Better than Your Theory” (II) This account does not have to be an account of the necessary conditions for the wrongness of killing; it provides sufficient conditions. Recall: If A is a necessary condition for B, then if not-A then not-B. If A is a sufficient condition for B, then if A, then B. Marquis is arguing that inflicting the loss of a valuable future on an individual by killing him makes the action wrong, not that any killing lacking this feature fails to be wrong.
11 The Discontinuation Account People value the experience of living and wish for that valuable experience to continue. So what makes killing wrong is the discontinuation of that experience for the victim. Since squidges don’t have experiences, there seems to be nothing inherently wrong with killing them. Competing Theories on What Makes Killing Wrong: The Desire Account People strongly desire to continue to live. So what makes killing wrong is that it interferes with the fulfillment of a strong and fundamental desire, the fulfillment of which is necessary to fulfilling any other desires we might have. Since squidges don’t have desires, there seems to be nothing inherently wrong with killing them.
12 Competing Theories on What Makes Killing Wrong: The Desire Account People strongly desire to continue to live. So what makes killing wrong is that it interferes with the fulfillment of a strong and fundamental desire, the fulfillment of which is necessary to fulfilling any other desires we might have. Since squidges don’t have desires, there seems to be nothing inherently wrong with killing them. We believe it is seriously wrong to kill people who are tired of life, and those who are merely unconscious. The goodness of life is not secondary to the desire for it. So the Desire Account is not an adequate account of what makes killing wrong.
13 The Discontinuation Account People value the experience of living and wish for that valuable experience to continue. So what makes killing wrong is the discontinuation of that experience for the victim. Since squidges don’t have experiences, there seems to be nothing inherently wrong with killing them. Competing Theories on What Makes Killing Wrong: The Discontinuation Account makes no mention of the value of experiences, and it does not seem wrong to deprive someone of a future of pain and suffering. If an individual is currently having no experiences (say, in a coma), under this account it seems okay to kill them, even if they may wake up later. So this is also an inadequate account of what makes killing wrong.
14 On the “value-of-a-future” account, it makes no difference whether an individual’s immediate past contains intolerable pain, or consists in being in a coma, or consists in a life of value. What is critical is what the future will bring: if the future is one of value, we want it to be wrong to kill that individual; if the future is intolerable, we want it to be permissible to kill that individual. As such, whether killing is wrong does not depend on the value of the victim’s past experiences, or whether he has any at all. The Victim’s Past:
15 1.Does value imply a valuer? In other words, if the squidge is not capable of valuing its future life, does that future life have no value? My (future) life can be of value to me even if I do not (currently) value it. The same will be true of a squidge, who is simply unaware of the future value of its life. Possible Counterarguments: 2.If an individual is incapable of desiring or having an interest in some thing, can the individual have a right to that thing? That is, if a squidge cannot desire or have an interest in life, can it have a right to life? Certainly one who has been drugged has a right to life, even if he is literally incapable of having a desire for, or interest in, that life.
16 3.Presumably plants cannot be victims because they are not sentient. Can a squidge be a victim if it isn’t sentient? Unlike a plant, a squidge has prospects for sentient life experiences. Killing a plant is not wrong because it does not deprive it of a future-like-ours; killing a squidge does. Possible Counterarguments: 4.Since contraception likewise prevents the actualization of a possible future of value, doesn’t that make contraception wrong, too? As we cannot say which sperm is so harmed, we cannot assign harm to any sperm in particular. Assigning harm to some ovum is arbitrary, for no reason can be given to assigning harm to an ovum rather than a sperm.