final essay

Final essay - PHIL 140 Professor Gideon Yaffe TA Eduardo Villanueva Thomson's Claims on Abortion and Self-Defense There is much to discuss

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PHIL 140 Professor Gideon Yaffe TA: Eduardo Villanueva Thomson’s Claims on Abortion and Self-Defense There is much to discuss pertaining to the topic that we as a society have coined “philosophy.” Anything that stands up to logic can be viewed in philosophical terms; actions are debated about in particular, in order to try to justify its permissibility, or impermissibility. Coupled with our innate desires for freedom of choice and one encounters many problems with the morality of those choices. Judith Jarvis Thomson, a moral philosopher, argues about the permissibility of abortion and killing in self-defense, two controversial topics in contemporary culture. This essay will try to break down the arguments for both topics and try to see if there are any correlations or contradictions between the two claims of Thomson. Thomson’s first claim is in support of abortion. She claims that under equal circumstances, meaning that the current situation is independent of everything that happened before it, a person does not have the obligation to give away something that he has a right to, regardless of other factors that depend on that person, even if that dependency is one’s life. When applied to abortion, this means that the fetus does not have the right to use the mother’s body without her consent. Also, because the fetus did not have access to the mother’s womb, it is not immoral to kill that fetus; therefore, it is not morally impermissible to kill a fetus if that fetus had no permission to use the mother’s womb. The basic example that Thomson uses to illustrate this argument is the violinist. In her example, person A goes to sleep and wakes up groggy in a hospital, hooked to a dialysis machine. A famous violinist is also hooked to that same dialysis machine because the violinist is dying of a rare kidney condition, and person A is the only person in the entire world that matches
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the violinist’s rare blood type. Therefore the use of person A’s kidneys are the only reason that the violinist is still alive, and the violinist must be treated with person A’s kidneys for 40 weeks. Thomson states that in this case, there is nothing morally wrong with person A detaching from the dialysis machine, even if it results in the death of the violinist. She argues that the violinist never had permission for the use of person A’s kidneys, and killing the violinist does not violate his right of not being killed because it was not a direct murder but a result of being denied access
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This essay was uploaded on 02/07/2008 for the course PHIL 140g taught by Professor Kwon during the Fall '07 term at USC.

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Final essay - PHIL 140 Professor Gideon Yaffe TA Eduardo Villanueva Thomson's Claims on Abortion and Self-Defense There is much to discuss

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