Mary Anne Warren’s “On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion” describes her justification that abortion is not a fundamentally wrong action for a mother to undertake. By forming a distinction between being genetically human and being a fully developed “person” and member of the “moral community” that encompasses humanity, Warren argues that it must be proven that fetuses are human beings in the morally relevant sense in order for their termination to be considered morally wrong. Warren’s rationale of defining moral personhood as showcasing a combination of five qualities such as “consciousness, reasoning, self-motivated activity, capacity of communication, and self-awareness” forms the basis of her argument that a fetus displays none of these elements that would justify its classification as a person and member of the morally relevant community (Timmons 386). Warren begins her argument by explicitly defining a human person as someone who is a “full-fledged member of the moral community” (Timmons 385). Warren believes that this community consists of all and only people that possess the ability to express the five qualities that were previously mentioned as opposed to all human beings that possess the genetic code of humanity. Being a member of this community entitles a person to have full moral rights, including the rights of life and happiness, which must be respected. Warren justifies that the five qualities are sufficient criteria of determining the apparent “personhood” of a being by stating that such principles of humanity would be used when attempting to study alien life forms on distant planets. Despite discernable differences in physiological and (potentially) cultural development, these alien beings may demonstrate enoug... ... middle of paper ... ... in terms of living or dying. By this logic, people in vegetative states should also have rights analogous to that of an infant at least. Many people practice or research medicine for the altruistic reasons and derive pleasure and a purpose in life by restoring the injured and sick to proper health. If a potential treatment can be developed by doctors and researchers to restore people in vegetative states to normal cognitive levels, it would be considered wrong to allow such a person to die because, like an infant, there exists the chance for them to develop an ability to function as long as research is continued to find a way to reverse such a condition. Works Cited Mill, John S. The Basic Writings of John Stuart Mill. New York, New York: Modern Library, 2002. Print. Timmons, Mark. Disputed Moral Issues. New York, New York: Oxford University Press, 2011. Print.
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.
“I argue that it is personhood, and not genetic humanity, which is the fundamental basis for membership in the moral community” (Warren 166). Warren’s primary argument for abortion’s permissibility is structured around her stance that fetuses are not persons. This argument relies heavily upon her six criteria for personhood: A being’s sentience, emotionality, reason, capacity for communication, self-awareness, and having moral agencies (Warren 171-172). While this list seems sound in considering an average, healthy adult’s personhood, it neither accounts for nor addresses the personhood of infants, mentally ill individuals, or the developmentally challenged. Sentience is one’s ability to consciously feel and perceive things around them. While it is true that all animals and humans born can feel and perceive things within their environment, consider a coma patient, an individual suspended in unconsciousness and unable to move their own body for indeterminate amounts of time. While controversial, this person, whom could be in the middle of an average life, does not suddenly become less of a person
The pro-life feminist believes that the autonomy of one’s body does not generalize if a fetus is present. In the case study involving Bob and Linda Thompson, a married couple with two children who end up pregnant after the failure of an IUD, the pro-life husband is thrilled by the news and informs the children, whereas the wife wants an immediate abortion of the four-month-old fetus in order to continue her career. Callahan would agree with the husband and believe Linda should continue the pregnancy as the right to control her body does not give her the right to control the body of her child. This fetus is immature and powerless, and though it is not yet a person, it is developing into one. Callahan believes that “women can never achieve the fulfillment of feminist goals in a society permissive toward abortion,” (Callahan 161) and disagrees with the views of philosophers Harrison and Petchesky. Furthermore, though Linda believes that it is her body and she has control over what she does with it, Callahan disagrees as another body will result from this 266-day pregnancy, and the process is genetically ordered. The abortion of the fetus is not like an organ donation as the development of the fetus is a continuing process, and Callahan finds it hard to differentiate the point after conception where the immature life
The argument that an acorn is not an oak tree delineates where the determination should be made concerning whether a person exists. Indeed, one of the main controversies in the debate over abortion rights, hinges on the question of whether a person exists at the point of conception, during its development in the womb, or after birth. Thomson (47-48) allows that the fetus clearly develops into a human being prior to birth. She points out that, by the tenth week of pregnancy, the fetus has quickly evolved into a living being with discernible human physical characteristics. That is to...
In her essay, “A Defense of Abortion,” Judith Jarvis Thompson outlines the most common arguments that people defend, and explains her views regarding each of these. She shares numerous examples and situations that she believes will support her views. One of her most prominent arguments is that of whether or not a fetus has moral standing as a “person.” She highlights the so called “battle” between an innocent life, the fetus, and the bodily rights of the mother. Within this argument, Judith outlines for us several situations which can provide people with a different outlook regarding abortion. Throughout Judith’s essay, she does not truly give a clear stance, but rather allows her readers to choose for themselves.
In order to define personhood, one must first define a human. A Human can be thought about in two different senses, a moral human sense and a genetic human sense. In a moral sense, humans can be thought of as a person who is a member of the moral community. In a genetic sense, humans are merely any physical being categorized as a being in the human species. From this one can conclude that a person is a human in the moral sense. Furthermore, characteristics of a person must be defined in order to differentiate moral beings from genetic humans.
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.
Abortions occur for all types of reasons, whether it is because the pregnancy was unplanned, rape-induced, or that it holds a life threatening capacity for the woman herself. Pro-lifers believe once one is conceived, he or she are entitled to a right to live. It does not matter whether or not the pro-lifers are able to prove that a fetus consists of personhood. The life of a potential person should not be able to override the right to one’s body. Judith Thomson presents a though experiment where personhood is granted to a fetus, but how that mere fact still fails to override the woman’s right to her body.
“I argue that it is personhood, and not genetic humanity, which is the fundamental basis for membership in the moral community” (133). This is the central idea in Mary Anne Warren’s argument on the personhood of a fetus. She argues that in order for a genetic human being to be considered a person, he or she would have to possess all of the six criteria’s of personhood which include sentience, ability to reason and emotionality. In order to determine the viability of the personhood of a fetus she argues two things. Firstly, Warren argues that even on the surmise that a fetus has a strong right to life, abortion can still be seen as morally permissible. Warren demonstrates this by using Judith Johnson’s Violinist analogy, which asks the basic
Warren argues against a fetus being a human in the moral sense. She states we can say a fetus has moral sense to be a human but not in the genetic sense. In order for a fetus to be human in the moral sense it has to be a being in the genetic sense. Warren thinks a fetus does not have full moral status because they are not persons. To be a person you have to have equal moral rights. Warren feels a fetus at any stage will not resemble a person or have significant right to life. A fetus does not have the ability to make decisions or have memories, therefore making them have no right to life. Warren states that a fetus is not a person and should not have morally rights. Warren stated in Potential Personhood and The Right to Life that a fetus does not resemble a person in anyway. She asks about the potential that could develop if the fetus is given the chance to become a person. “It is hard to deny that the fact that an entity is a potential person is a strong prima facie reason for not destroying it; but we need not conclude from this that a potential person has a right to life, by virtue of that potential”(Warren, p.472). After analyzing the concept of a person Warren has come to the conclusion that a fetus at any stage of development does not resemble a person enough to have right to life or potential for being a
...e open to all women at any point of pregnancy, and that the woman reserves the right as a fully conscious member of the moral community to choose to carry the child or not. She argues that fetuses are not persons or members of the moral community because they don’t fulfill the five qualities of personhood she has fashioned. Warren’s arguments are valid, mostly sound, and cover just about all aspects of the overall topic. However much she was inconsistent on the topic of infanticide, her overall writing was well done and consistent. Warren rejects emotional appeal in a very Vulcan like manner; devout to reason and logic and in doing so has created a well-written paper based solely on this rational mindset.
Many arguments in the abortion debate assume that the morality of abortion depends upon the moral status of the foetus. While I regard the moral status of the foetus as important, it is not the central issue that determines the moral justifiability of abortion. The foetus may be awarded a level of moral status, nevertheless, such status does not result in the prescription of a set moral judgement. As with many morally significant issues, there are competing interests and a variety of possible outcomes that need to be considered when making a moral judgement on abortion. While we need to determine the moral status of the foetus in order to establish the type of entity we are dealing with, it does not, however, exist in a moral vacuum. There are other key issues requiring attention, such as the moral status and interests of the pregnant woman who may desire an abortion, and importantly, the likely consequences of aborting or not aborting a particular foetus. Furthermore, I assert that moral status should be awarded as a matter of degree, based upon the capacities of sentience and self-consciousness an entity possesses. In a bid to reach a coherent conclusion on the issue, the moral status of both foetus and woman, along with the likely results of aborting a particular foetus, must be considered together. Given the multiple facets requiring consideration, I assert that utilitarianism (Mill 1863) offers a coherent framework for weighing and comparing the inputs across a variety of situations, which can determine whether it is ever morally justifiable to have an abortion.
Singer first points out that the different opinions on abortion come from the debate on when a human life actually begins. He formulates the common argument against abortion as follows: it is wrong to kill an innocent human being; a human fetus is an innocent human being; therefore, it is wrong to kill a human fetus. It is because killing a human being is undoubtedly wrong and immoral that the opposition instead attempts to deny the second part of the argument “a human fetus is an innocent human being”. By doing so, critics argue that the fetus does not have the status of a human being. This debate results in focusing on whether, or when, the fetus can be considered a human being, and therefore given the same rights against being killed as another human being. Singer however claims that it is difficult to find a moral dividing line between a fetus and a human being because the development of the human egg to a child is gradual. To prove his point, he describes four commonly proposed moral lines (birth, viability, quickening, and consciousness), which he then denies with strong arguments.
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