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SampleAPaper - Are persons responsible for the consequences...

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Are persons responsible for the consequences of voluntary intercourse? Does such responsibility still allow them moral discretion in deciding whether to terminate a pregnancy? If so, why? Discuss. If the room is stuffy, and I therefore open a window to air it, and a burglar climbs in, it would be absurd to say, “Ah, now he can stay, she’s given him a right to the use of her house, for she is partially responsible for his presence there, having voluntarily done what enabled him to get in.” … It remains equally absurd if we imagine … an innocent person who blunders or falls in. Again, suppose it were like this: people-seeds drift about in the air like pollen, and if you open your windows, one may drift in and take root in your carpets or upholstery. You don’t want children, so you fix up your windows with fine mesh screens, the very best you can buy. As can happen, however, and on very, very rare occasions does happen, one of the screens is defective; and a seed drifts in and takes root. Does the person-plant who now develops have a right to the use of your house? Surely not – despite the fact that you voluntarily opened your windows, you knowingly kept carpets and upholstered furniture, and you knew that screens were sometimes defective. 1 Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “A Defense of Abortion” creates a series of thought experiments to explore issues surrounding abortion. Throughout the essay, she presumes, for the sake of argument, that the foetus is a person from the moment of conception. In this case, she uses the analogy of an innocent person or “person-seed” to frame arguments about abortion following voluntary sexual intercourse, represented in her experiment by the action of opening a window. However, I would argue that the woman has a responsibility towards the foetus due to her agency in creating him, and that this responsibility qualifies her right to control her body. The comparison between the unborn person and a burglar is clearly absurd, since a burglar is morally culpable for breaking into your house and hence has no right to stay there. So Thomson postulates a second scenario: the case of an innocent stranger who 1 Judith Jarvis Thomson, “A Defense of Abortion,” Philosophy and Public Affairs 1.1 (1971), 132.
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blunders in despite having no right to use your house. She argues that just as the stranger doesn’t have a right to your living-room space, an unborn person has no right to use his mother’s body. But unlike the innocent person who falls in through your window, the unborn person cannot live outside the mother’s body. So let us expand the analogy to assume that the innocent person in your living room will die if he leaves your house, since a deadly virus pervades the city – in other words, that he is uniquely dependent on you. But even this addition does not fully embody the sui generis nature of pregnancy: the mother, unlike the homeowner, has done something to create a situation in which an innocent
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This note was uploaded on 02/28/2011 for the course REL 261 taught by Professor Erics.gregory during the Fall '09 term at Princeton.

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SampleAPaper - Are persons responsible for the consequences...

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