CONCLUSION Much more might be said, but I shall end the actual discussion of the problemof abortion here, and conclude by highlighting what I take to be its significant features. These hark back to many of the criticisms of vir- tue theory discussed earlier. The discussion does not proceed simply by our trying to answer the question "Would a perfectly virtuous agent ever have an abortion and, if so, when?"; virtue theory is not limited to considering "Would Socrates have had an abortion if he were a raped, pregnant fifteen-year-old?" nor automatically stumped when we are considering circumstances into which no virtuous agent would have got herself. Instead, much of the discussion proceeds in the virtue- and vice-related terms whose applica- tion, in several cases, yields practical conclusions (cf. the third and fourth criticisms above). These terms are difficult to apply correctly, and anyone might challenge my application of any one of them. So, for ex- ample, I have claimed that some abortions, done for certain reasons, would be callous or light-minded; that others might indicate an appro- priate modesty or humility; that others would reflect a greedy and foolish attitude to what one could expect out of life. Any of these examples may be disputed, but what is at issue is, should these difficult terms be there, or should the discussion be couched in terms that all clever adolescents can apply correctly? (Cf. the first half of the "major objection" above.) This content downloaded from 126.96.36.199 on Thu, 29 Aug 2013 15:50:08 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
245 Virtue Theory and Abortion Proceeding as it does in the virtue- and vice-related terms, the discus- sion thereby, inevitably, also contains claims about what is worthwhile, serious and important, good and evil, in our lives. So, for example, I claimed that parenthood is intrinsically worthwhile, and that having a good time was a worthless end (in life, not on individual occasions); that losing a fetus is always a serious matter (albeit not a tragedy in itself in the first trimester) whereas acquiring an appendectomy scar is a trivial one; that (human) death is an evil. Once again, these are difficult mat- ters, and anyone might challenge any one of my claims. But what is at issue is, as before, should those difficultclaims be there or can one reach practical conclusions about real moral issues that are in no way deter- mined by premises about such matters? (Cf. the fifth criticism, and the second half of the "major criticism.") The discussion also thereby, inevitably, contains claims about what life is like (e.g., my claim that love and friendship do not survive their par- ties' constantly insisting on their rights; or the claim that to demand per- fection of life is to run the risk of missing out on happiness entirely).
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