In A Defense of Abortion (Cahn and Markie), Judith Thomson presents an argument that abortion can be morally permissible even if the fetus is considered to be a person. Her primary reason for presenting an argument of this nature is that the abortion argument at the time had effectively come to a standstill. The typical anti-abortion argument was based on the idea that a fetus is a person and since killing a person is wrong, abortion is wrong. The pro-abortion adopts the opposite view: namely, that a fetus is not a person and is thus not entitled to the rights of people and so killing it couldn’t possibly be wrong. Thomson’s argument is presented in three components. The first section deals with the now famous violinist thought experiment. This experiment presents a situation in which you wake up one morning and discover you have been kidnapped and hooked up to an ailing violinist so that his body would have the use of your kidneys for the next nine months. The intuitive and instinctive reaction to this situation is that you have no moral duty to remain hooked up to the violinist, and more, that he (or the people who kidnapped you) does not have the right to demand the use of your body for this period. From a deontological point of view, it can be seen that in a conflict between the right of life of the fetus and the right to bodily integrity of the mother, the mother’s rights will trump those of the fetus. Thomson distills this by saying “the right to life consists not in the right not to be killed, but rather in the right not to be killed unjustly”. Thomson recognizes that this thought experiment has a very limited application – specifically to those instances where a pregnancy is the result of coercion or violence. In the sec... ... middle of paper ... ...t the court left for states to ban late-term abortions. Many feel that a fetus near the end of a pregnancy is simply too like a human to come up with any justification for killing it, unless the pregnancy threatens the health of the mother. The line on the spectrum that the court ended up defining was based on when the fetus becomes viable. Before this point, the fetus is entirely dependent on the mother and the court left the mother with the ability to withdraw her support from the fetus. After the point of viability, society as a whole is then able to assist in taking care of the infant. This then, is where the fetus gains the added requirement to its right to life discussed earlier. Works Cited Cahn, Steven M. and Peter Markie, Ethics: History, Theory and Contemporary Issues. 4th Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2009. Roe v. Wade. No. 410. U.S. 1973.
Judith Jarvis Thomson makes an interesting argument on the defense of abortion. She uses a libertarian framework believing in the doctrine of free will on a rights based account that a women and the fetus that she carries have equal rights. She makes clear, that “the fetus is a human being, a person, from the moment of conception.” In her specific argument she believes that every person has a right to life, and our obligation to one another as human beings is to not interfere with the rights of others and are not obligated to intervene past that. Her specific argument is convincing.
Judith Jarvis Thomson, in "A Defense of Abortion", argues that even if we grant that fetuses have a fundamental right to life, in many cases the rights of the mother override the rights of a fetus. For the sake of argument, Thomson grants the initial contention that the fetus has a right to life at the moment of conception. However, Thomson explains, it is not self-evident that the fetus's right to life will always outweigh the mother's right to determine what goes on in her body. Thomson also contends that just because a woman voluntarily had intercourse, it does not follow that the fetus acquires special rights against the mother. Therefore, abortion is permissible even if the mother knows the risks of having sex. She makes her points with the following illustration. Imagine that you wake up one morning and find that you have been kidnapped, taken to a hospital, and a famous violist has been attached to your circulatory system. You are told that the violinist was ill and you were selected to be the host, in which the violinist will recover in nine months, but will die if disconnected from you before then. Clearly, Thomson argues, you are not morally required to continue being the host. In her essay she answers the question: what is the standard one has to have in order to be granted a right to life? She reflects on two prospects whether the right to life is being given the bare minimum to sustain life or ir the right to life is merely the right not to be killed. Thomson states that if the violinist has more of a right to life then you do, then someone should make you stay hooked up to the violinist with no exceptions. If not, then you should be free to go at a...
The typical anti-abortion argument is as follows: 1. Every fetus is a person, 2. Every person has the right to life, 3. Every fetus has the right to life [1,2], 4. Everything that has the right to life may not be killed, 5. Every fetus may not be killed [3,4]. Premise 1 is taken from page 297 in our book when Thompson states, “Most opposition to abortion relies on the premise that the fetus is a human being, a person…” Premise 2 and conclusion 3 are taken from page 298 when Thomson says “Every person has a right to life. So the fetus has a right to life.” Premise 4 is taken from page 298 when Thomson states “So the fetus may not be killed.” She does not explicitly state the premise, "Everything that has the right to life may not be killed," but we can infer this since in the previous premises she stated that every fetus is a person and every person has the right to life. So since that is true then we can substitute fetus for everything that has the right to life, therefore stating everything that has the right to life may not be killed. Conclusion 5 is also not stated directly in Thomson’s paper, but follows directly from the premises that are stated in her paper.
Thomson’s main idea is to show why Pro-Life Activists are wrong in their beliefs. She also wants to show that even if the fetus inside a women’s body had the right to life (as argued by Pro – Lifers), this right does not entail the fetus to have whatever it needs to survive – including usage of the woman’s body to stay alive.
In the article 'A Defense of Abortion' Judith Jarvis Thomson argues that abortion is morally permissible even if the fetus is considered a person. In this paper I will give a fairly detailed description of Thomson main arguments for abortion. In particular I will take a close look at her famous 'violinist' argument. Following will be objections to the argumentative story focused on the reasoning that one person's right to life outweighs another person's right to autonomy. Then appropriate responses to these objections. Concluding the paper I will argue that Thomson's 'violinist' argument supporting the idea of a mother's right to autonomy outweighing a fetus' right to life does not make abortion permissible.
In Thomson’s article, “A Defense of Abortion,” Thomson argues that abortion is not impermis-sible because she agrees with the fact that fetus has already become a human person well before birth, from the moment of conception (Thomson, 268 & 269). Besides that, she also claims that every person has a right to live, does so a fetus, because a fetus is a person who has a right to live.
The standard argument against abortion claims that the fetus is a person and therefore has a right to life. Thomson shows why this standard argument against abortion is a somewhat inadequate account of the morality of abortion.
Thomson sets out to show that the foetus does not have a right to the mother’s body and that it would be not unjust to perform an abortion when the mother’s life is not threatened.
Warren’s five criteria for personhood are consciousness, reasoning, self-motivated activity, capacity to communicate, and presence of self-concepts. While not a definition of what it is to be a person, it does list the central features of moral personhood. The first three particularly seem to encompass the base necessity of cognitive functions to be able to think in a moral fashion. Unfortunately a fetus cannot be said to exhibit any of the five criteria, with the exception of consciousness, and is therefore morally comparable to a chicken or a fish. This comparison is a problem for many who argue that the fetus is a person on account of it being human, but as we already noted that is not enough. "If the right to life of the fetus is to be based upon its resemblance to a person, then it cannot be said to have any more right to life than a ne...
Thomson concludes that there are no cases where the person pregnant does not have the right to chose an abortion. Thomson considers the right to life of the pregnant person by presenting the case of a pregnant person dying as a result from their pregnancy. In this case, the right of the pregnant person to decide what happens to their body outweighs both the fetus and the pregnant person 's right to life. The right to life of the fetus is not the same as the pregnant person having to die, so as not to infringe on the right of the fetus. In the case of the violinist, their necessity for your body for life is not the same as their right over the use of your body. Thomson argues that having the right to life is not equal to having the right to use the body of another person. They argue that this is also the case, even if the the pregnant person knowingly participated in intercourse and knew of the possibility of pregnancy. In this case it would seem that abortion would not be permissible since the pregnancy was not by force. However, we are reverted back to the case of rape. If a fetus conceived voluntarily has the right not to be aborted due to how it was conceived, then the fetus conceived from rape should also have that same right. Instead of creating a distinction of cases where the fetus has a right to use the body of a pregnant person, Thomson instead makes a distinction of when abortion would be morally
“A Defense of Abortion” by Judith Jarvis Thomson gives several different scenarios of abortion for her reader to examine. All of her arguments agree, for arguments sake, upon the fact that the fetus has a right to life from the moment of conception. However; the mother has as equal right to life and the mother’s right to decide what happens to and in her body could possibly be taken into consideration to outweigh the fetus’ right to life. Although, she makes it decently clear she doesn’t whole heartedly agree that the fetus has an equal right to life. Thomson takes the abortion debate passed just simply establishing that the fetus is a person, and since all people have a right to life, abortion is immoral. She also changes the argument by not using the go to defense of abortion by trying to define a timeline of when the fetus actually becomes a person. I agree with Thomson in almost all of her arguments and think she gives sound reasoning and her position is easily defended but I believe that she has one idea that cannot be morally justified with the reasoning that she provides, if it can be justified with any amount of reasoning.
Abortion is a widely arguable issue that begs the question whether a mother has the right to abort her child or if the child has the right to life. Abortion is the deliberate removal of a fetus from the womb of the mother, resulting in the death of the child. Abortions are said to be morally permissible after a certain number of months after the mother is pregnant because of the development of the embryo to have a brain. The other side of the argument is that right when the mother is pregnant, it is wrong for the mother to abort because the embryo has a right to life as soon as the mother is pregnant. This is a primary concern for anti-abortion supporters. Mary Warren takes this pro-life stance to defend the life of the fetus by not allowing abortions under any circumstance in her case, “On the Moral and legal status of Abortion”, 1973. Warren argues whether abortion is morally permissible at any stage of pregnancy and under any circumstances. Warren’s argument for her stance on abortion is stated as 1) It is wrong to kill human beings. 2) Fetuses are innocent human beings. 3) Therefore it is wrong to kill fetuses. She claims that the credit for her argument lies in the definition of the term ‘human being’. The definition of human is a member of the biological species Homo Sapien. This includes adults, children, and also fetuses that are unborn in the mother’s womb. This is the argument for why abortion is not morally permissible in any case because fetuses are innocent human beings with an inherent right to life as a biological organism. Along with a moral sense of community, human is being a member of the moral community o...
There are many arguments for and against abortion one main focus is whether or not the fetus is a person. For this essay I will only be analyzing and discussing two philosophers with two different arguments, who are for and against abortion, with neither of them focusing on whether or not the fetus is a person. First I’ll examine the argument Judith Jarvis Thomson concludes, in the cases of pregnancy due to rape, in her article entitled “A Defense of Abortion.” I’ll explain how she argues for abortion being morally permissible in cases of rape and will indicate one problem with her argument. Then in Don Marquis 's article entitled "Why Abortion is Immoral." I will explain how he argues that abortion is immoral and will also indicate one problem with his argument. Lastly, I will give my opinion on who I think may have the stronger argument of the two.
Thomson starts off her paper by explaining the general premises that a fetus is a person at conception and all persons have the right to life. One of the main premises that Thomson focuses on is the idea that a fetus’ right to life is greater than the mother’s use of her body. Although she believes these premises are arguable, she allows the premises to further her explanation of why abortion could be