Is Abortion Morally Permissible On The Grounds That A Fetus Is Not A Person

Is Abortion Morally Permissible On The Grounds That A Fetus Is Not A Person

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Mary Anne Warren contends that abortion is morally permissible on the grounds that a fetus is not a person. In her eyes, although, fetuses are genetically distinct humans they are not people because they do not have the necessary characteristics for personhood: sentience, reasoning, emotionality, the capacity to communicate, self-awareness, and moral agency. For her, the lack of these characteristics do not necessarily allude that a fetus is not a person only that it belittles the confidence that they are a person- or in other words creates doubt of their personhood. In this essay, I shall argue when it comes to emotionality Warren sets the bar too high and indoingso runs the risk of wrongly overlooking different types of emotionality, which sets up uncertainty that a fetus is a person. To support this thesis, I will demonstrate why her definition of emotionality is unreachable in most instances. Moreover, I will consider how Warren could reply, by clarifying her definition of emotionality and will reply to this rebuttal by arguing that this clarification is too polarizing in that it overlooks hormonal aspects of emotionality.
Warren argues that a fetus is not a person because it lacks the necessary characteristics pertaining to personhood (729). That is, a fetus lacks the capacity to communicate, sentience, emotionality, reason, self-awareness, and moral agency (729). The essence of her argument, on personhood, lies in the distinction of human being as opposed to person. For her this is relevant because biologically, fetuses are humans in that they genetically identify with Homo sapiens, but they are not people because they lack the central characteristics of personhood. In order to be confident that one is a person one must di...


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...ne teeth, and a tendency to bark or whine. The former definition sets the bar too low in that every four legged animal can qualify as a dog whereas the latter sets the bar too high in that some dogs may not actually qualify as dogs using that definition. For this reason the definition of a dog has to be somewhere in the middle. Thus when extending this example to emotionality it becomes clear one should take an Aristotelian approach in defining emotion because it would not be polarizing. The emotions we feel (happy, sad, angry, etc) is partly influenced by hormones such as dopamine and partly influenced by our own self-observation of markers. Integrating hormones and self-observation ensures we cover the spectrum of emotionality. This further ensures that the capability of emotionality that the fetus may display fetus is not overlooked by taking either of the paths.

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