PHIL 140 2nd MIDTERM - PHIL 140 Professor Gideon Yaffe TA...

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PHIL 140 Professor Gideon Yaffe TA: Eduardo Villanueva Controversy over Contraception as Murder The debate over abortion has been an issue for quite some time now. There is much debate as to when abortion is permissible, if at all permissible, and the reasoning behind it. Philosopher Don Marquis believes that abortion is impermissible and offers a reason as to why it is so. Marquis believes that abortion is impermissible because the fetus in the mother’s womb has a future like ours. In other words, the fetus has a future of value like ours, and in killing the fetus, one takes away that future of value. Marquis, however, believes that contraception (or certain types of contraception) is permissible because it does not take away any future of value. Philosopher Alastair Norcross, though, is not convinced by Marquis’ views on contraception and argues against it, saying that according to Marquis’ future of value argument, contraception would be murder. This essay will try to clarify and further analyze the debate between Marquis and Norcross on the topic of contraception’s permissibility and to try and reach a conclusion. Marquis realizes there is room for objection on his view of contraception and tries to create counter-arguments in his essay of “Why Abortion is Immoral.” Marquis first states that indeed “contraception prevents the actualization of a possible future of value,” (75) but this would only be wrong is something were denied a future of value like ours (human future of value). Contraception does not deny a future of value like ours, therefore it is not impermissible. Personally this argument is sound, that contraception, or at least for example’s sake contraception before a zygote is formed (like a condom), is not like abortion because unlike the fetus that has a future of value like ours; a sperm and ovum separately do not.
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This brings us to Marquis’ examination of the different cases that one might argue when dealing with contraception. All four cases deal with harm coming to each subject by contraception. The first subject is some sperm; saying that harm comes to sperm from contraception is arbitrary, that is there is no concrete reason as to why the sperm would be a subject of harm rather than an ovum. The second subject is some ovum; like the first, it is arbitrary and there lies no definitive reason as to why the ovum would be the subject of harm instead of the sperm. Marquis’ third subject is the sperm and ovum separately; although it seems like there is a potential for a future of value like ours, this too does not apply to an objection of Marquis’ view of the permissibility of contraception. In the third case, too many futures of value
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