Bio Med Ethics

Bio Med Ethics - January 9, 2008, January 11, 2008, &...

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Page 1 The Morality of Abortion JJ Thomson’s “A Defense of Abortion” I. Prelims A. The debate is characterized as a tension between conflicting rights 1. Fetus’ right to life versus the mother’s right to self-control (sometimes the mother’s right to life) B. What is a “right”? 1. Permission (liberty) 2. Or a claim against someone 3. Rights correspond to duties II. Three Reasons to Want an Abortion A. The mother is at risk of dying 1. Self-defense (mother exercising right) 2. But is this a good justification? a) Example: Intent and the fat man b) You are stuck in a well, a gust of wind blows the fat man in too and he is about to fall on top of you and kill you. You have a flamethrower, is it justified to incinerate the fat man to save your life? 3. The bottom line: Self-defense justification for abortion in cases where the mother might die depends on whether the intent is a requirement on permissible self-defense B. Rape C. Willingly Consent to Sex III. Anti-Abortion Argument A. All people have the right to life B. The fetus is a person from conception C. So, the fetus has a right to life D. The right to life always takes precedence (trumps) over all other rights E. So, when the right to life of the fetus comes into conflict with the mother’s right to self- control, the right of the fetus takes precedence over the right of the mother; it’s never permissible to kill a fetus as a means to protection your right to self-control IV. Thomson’s Response (Particularly Point “D”)/Violinist Case A. For Thomson, in cases of rape and in some cases of unwanted pregnancy, the right of the mother does trump the right of the fetus B. Note well: Thomson assumes the truth of (B) for arguments sake C. She denies the truth of (D) and hence (E) D. She gives two arguments from analogy (an argument whose conclusion is established by) 1. X is similar to Y in relevant respects 2. P is true of X 3. Therefore, P is true of Y E. Rape Case [Violinist Case (pg 2-3)] 1. What’s supposed to be similar to what? What’s Thomson’s point? a.
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Bio Med Ethics - January 9, 2008, January 11, 2008, &...

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