Philosophy Paper - Ben Olson Philosophy in Society Marquis...

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Ben Olson Philosophy in Society 10/6/07 Marquis’ Argument January 22, 1973 is one of the most important days in U.S. history, for it is the day that the Supreme Court announced its decision in Roe vs. Wade. The case had been filed by an unmarried woman who wanted to safely and legally end her pregnancy. The court recognized her constitutional right to privacy and ruled in her favor. This court case has divided the country into two factions: pro- choice and pro-life. Pro-life advocates argue that abortions are murder and are considered extreme levels of child abuse. The pro-choice argument is that the fetus is not yet a human being and its rights should not override that of the mother’s . An opponent of abortion, in response to the moral status of the human fetus, says the fetus has the same right to life that you or I have. They say that killing a human fetus is morally on a par with killing a typical adult human being. In regards to a female’s constitutional right to privacy, an opponent would say that a pregnant woman’s right to control her own body is not strong enough to outweigh the wrongness of abortion. The purpose of this paper is to explain and critique Don Marquis’s argument in defense of the claim that abortion is prima facie seriously immoral. His argument is among the most prominent in the literature on abortion and a lot of commentary has been generated from his future-like-ours argument, which will also be discussed in this essay. Marquis’s main point is to convince us that it is prima facie seriously immoral to kill X if X has a future like ours. Does it have to be a future like ours that X values? Yes,
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Marquis says that it has to be a future like ours that X values now or will value later. The first premise has two assumptions, it is prima facie seriously immoral to kill an individual if the individual has a future like ours, and also if the individual values or will come to value its future like ours. Marquis cleverly uses this assumption to make people say, “if we merely believe but do not understand why killing an adult human being such as us is wrong. How can we possibly say abortion is permissible?” The second premise says that a standard human fetus has a future like ours and will come to value it. In other words, aborting a fetus is giving up the joyful experiences that make a persons life worth living. Marquis’s conclusion says it is prima facie or obviously immoral to kill a standard human fetus. He leaves out the assumption that it is immoral to kill a non-standard human fetus because he feels that it is morally permissible to abort a deformed or sickly fetus. Marquis’s argument is in defense of the rights of the human fetus. He says, “It is immoral to kill an innocent adult human being, and agrees that this is so even if the human being in question is an unloved hermit, a suicidal teenager, or a temporarily comatose adult (pg. 66).” Marquis begins the explanation of his argument with a theoretical account of the wrongness of killing. His strategy is to identify uncontroversial cases where
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