normal fetuses would enjoy W r i t i n g
Pick one of the following papers assigned for next week (I give super-brief descriptions of them below).
1. Pick one article, and pick one argument from it which most closely resembles your own reasoning or position about abortion, or one that you’re sympathetic to.
2. Then, levy the strongest objection you can think of against that argument, trying to imagine how an opponent would object.
3. Then, see if you can adequately respond to the objection you bring up.
4. When you move to discussion, try to assess each other’s reasoning.
Your imaginary interlocutor should not merely state the negation of the argument’s conclusion (that’s merely disagreement, not argument), but should try to point out a fault with one of the argument’s premises, or a problem with the reasoning involved.
- “A Defense of Abortion,” Thomson (477-487)
- Thomson argues that the ‘personhood’ criterion for arguing about the permissibility of abortion is somewhat irrelevant. Even assuming that the fetus is a person, a woman can not be considered to have a duty to let another person use her body without her consent.
- “Why Abortion is Immoral,” Marquis (487-492)
- Marquis brings up the famous ‘a future like ours’ argument. What’s wrong with killing someone, Marquis states, is that we rob them of all the future goods that they otherwise would have enjoyed had they lived. Marquis argues that, if not aborted, normal fetuses would enjoy a future like ours, and we can only justifiably deny them this future in limited circumstances.
- “Virtue Ethics and Abortion,” Hursthouse (excerpt), only pp223-226, 233-246 required reading. Pdf in Files tab and Module 7.
- Hursthouse also argues that fully understanding the concept of ‘person’, and details about fetal development are irrelevant to understanding whether abortion is permissible or not. Using Aristotle’s Virtue Theory of ethics, she tries to argue that we can understand abortion to be permissible when getting one is motivated by a virtuous, or at least not a vicious, disposition. She is not arguing about legal permissibility, but rather about when moral blameworthiness is involved. A woman may strictly speaking have a right to an abortion, even when her manner and motivation for getting one is callous, selfish, or flippant, but this is a separate issue from whether or not a woman is blameworthy in deciding to have one.