Does Thomson’s Violinist Thought Experiment Demonstrate That, Even If the Fetus Is a Person with Full Moral Rights, Abortion Is Still Morally Permissible in Most Circumstances?

In: Philosophy and Psychology

Submitted By supergoodpk
Words 2665
Pages 11
The argument on whether abortion is morally permissible has been considered for years. Most philosophers incline to accept moral principle that it is always prima facie seriously wrong to end the life of a person in normal circumstances. The personhood of an embryo and foetus has somehow invoked another controversial issue on whether they are kind of beings, or persons, that it is seriously wrong, for any sake, to end their life. Both the anti-abortionist side and pro-choicers side can only give equally vague boundary on claiming that foetus is a person, or not so. However, as we will find out later in this essay, the problem of whether a foetus is a person, or whether a foetus has serious right to life, does not significantly affect the consideration of abortion under Thomson’s account.

The argument of the personhood of foetus will just stay at a standoff if there is no clear definition or lists for what characteristics make a thing a person. When we draw line to represent the development of a human being from the state of conception to the point that a baby is born, it will be arbitrary to choose a point which the thing inside a mother is a person after that point and not a person before that point. Moreover, the opposite of abortion may suggest that a foetus, even at the moment of conception, is a person because of their potential future, meanwhile, the supporters of abortion may insist that a foetus has not yet become a person because it lacks of some characteristics that a person need. Again, there will be an endless argument since no certain guide for personhood is established. Many anti-abortionists spend too much time on explaining that a foetus is a person and thus has right to life just like us. This seems a right track on arguing against abortion but hardly to prove precisely that abortion is morally impermissible. However, the personhood of a foetus…...

Similar Documents

The Black and White of Abortion

...White of Abortion Abortion is arguably the most controversial issue that exists today. Abortion is a religious matter, questioning the humanity of a fetus and if one has the right to kill it. This issue also causes disagreement between men and women, and whether women have the right to bodily autonomy. Furthermore, abortion questions which right is stronger, the right to bodily autonomy or the right to life. Mary Anne Warren and Judith Jarvis Thomson have similar stances on the issue, although both claim to be pro-choice. Thomson, through the famous violinist example, argues women have the right to bodily autonomy, which is stronger than a fetus’s right to life. Warren, on the other hand, states fetuses are not persons because they do not attribute the five-personhood traits. In this paper I will agree and disagree with both philosophers, to a certain extent. Two central issues surround abortion. First, is it permissible to kill a potential human being? Most Christians believe that at the moment of conception, a human life is created. Other people believe a fetus is not a person until after the period of time when it becomes illegal to have an abortion, typically after five months. Judith Jarvis Thomson is pro-choice. She believes the woman’s right to bodily autonomy is stronger than a fetus’s right to life, and proves so through the famous violinist example. She believes a person does not have a moral obligation to stay connected to the famous violinist, that......

Words: 1160 - Pages: 5

Abortion

...Background Information Abortion is the termination of pregnancy by the removal or expulsion from the uterus of a fetus or embryo prior to viability. An abortion can occur spontaneously, in which case it is usually called a miscarriage, or it can be purposely induced. The term abortion most commonly refers to the induced abortion of a human pregnancy. Induced abortion has long history, and can be traced back to civilizations as varied as China under Shennong, Ancient Egypt with its Ebers Papyrus and the Roman Empire in the time of Juvenal. There is evidence to suggest that pregnancies were terminated through a number of methods, including the administration of abortifacient herbs, the use of sharpened implements, the application of abdominal pressure, and other techniques. Introduction The ethics of abortion is a highly controversial issue that had been going continually argued over for the past few years and probably many years to come. Usually, debates about abortion focus on politics and the law: should abortion be outlawed and treated like the murder of a human person, or remain a legal choice available to all women? Behind the debates are more fundamental ethical questions which aren’t always given the specific attention they deserve. Some believe that the law shouldn’t legislate morality, but all good law is based upon moral values. A failure to openly discuss those values can obscure important discussions. The labels “Pro-life” and “Pro-choice” imply that...

Words: 2642 - Pages: 11

Abortion

...immorality of abortion. What primarily makes killing wrong is neither its effect on the murderer nor its effect on the victim’s friends and relatives, but its effect on the victim. The loss of one’s life is one of the greatest losses one can suffer. The loss of one’s life deprives one of all the experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments which would otherwise have constituted one’s future. Therefore, killing someone is wrong, primarily because the killing inflicts (one of) the greatest possible losses on the victim. This is one of the most hotly contested topics in today’s society. People adopt different viewpoints on this which include: • Abortion is wrong whatever the reasons • Abortion is permissible if the woman’s life is at risk • Abortion is acceptable for a variety of reasons Your opinion on whether abortion is acceptable or not very much depends upon your set of values. If you feel that it is a woman’s right to choose then you are likely to favor the ‘pro-choice’ stance. But if you argue that the fetus has rights and should be treated the same as any other human being then you will adopt the ‘pro-life’ stance. Opponents of abortion cite several reasons for their opposition which include the killing of an innocent human being, the fetus’s right to life, the responsibility of the woman towards the fetus and respect for all forms of life. There are people who are against abortion on principle but do recognize that there are situations in which abortion......

Words: 1666 - Pages: 7

Is Abortion Immoral?

...Is Abortion Immoral? Question 1: Imagine two philosophers sitting on a bench at the county morgue. They are looking at the bodies being brought in and three in particular interest them. One is a woman who was six months pregnant due to rape and died from the pregnancy complication. She wanted to have an abortion but it (abortion) was illegal under all circumstances in her state. One is the body of a woman who died after attempting to give herself an abortion with a coat hanger. She was a poor woman who lives in the slums; she had no money to take care of the child and no way to feed her living children if she lost her work from the pregnancy. Another body is that of a one-month-old fetus that was aborted once the mother found out that it was going to be a girl. She has just had one child and wanted to wait for a couple of years to have another. While looking at these bodies the philosophers begin to discuss the question: “Is abortion immoral”? How would the discussion proceed if the two philosophers were: 1) You and Judith Thomson? 2) You ad Sidney Callahan? 3) Which position (s) do you find morally compelling and why? In this scenario, the two philosophers are sitting on a bench at the county morgue. They are looking at the bodies that died involving abortion’s issues. I will call case A – a woman who was six months pregnant due to rape and died from the pregnancy complication because abortion was illegal in her state. Case B is the......

Words: 4599 - Pages: 19

Abortion

...Ethical problems with Thomson's argument 2. Thomson's argument is fatal to family morality. It follows from the first criticism that Thomson's volunteerism is fatal to family morality, which has as one of its central beliefs that an individual has special and filial obligations to his offspring and family that he does not have to other persons. Although Thomson may not consider such a fatality as being all that terrible, since she may accept the feminist dogma that the traditional family is "oppressive" to women,12 a great number of ordinary men and women, who have found joy, happiness, and love in family life, find Thomson's volunteerism to be counter-intuitive. Philosopher Christina Sommers has come to a similar conclusion: For it [the volunteerist thesis] means that there is no such thing as filial duty per se, no such thing as the special duty of mother to child, and generally no such thing as morality of special family or kinship relations. All of which is contrary to what people think. For most people think that we do owe special debts to our parents even though we have not voluntarily assumed our obligations to them. Most people think that what we owe to our children does not have its origin in any voluntary undertaking, explicit or implicit, that we have made to them. And "preanalytically," many people believe that we owe special consideration to our siblings even at times when we may not feel very friendly to them . . . . The idea that to be committed to an......

Words: 4187 - Pages: 17

Abortion

...Defense of Abortion by Judith Jarvis Thomson Abortion can be a very touchy subject for many people for many different reasons. The knowledge that goes along with having an opinion about abortion is sometimes nonexistent; I have heard presentation after presentation about what people’s opinions are without the intelligence that you should have when you are bill boarding those thoughts. Reading A Defense of Abortion by Judith Jarvis Thomson is an article that covers these topics from the most common arguments to her personal thought experiments and it a has a refreshing way of discussing the arguments. I also find that every time I read the article I change my mind about what her feelings about the subject truly are. The most common and the first argument that Thomson discusses is that people believe that the fetus is a human being from the time of conception. Thomson argues this point by saying we are told to think of the development of fetus to birth and through childhood as a continuous life and then we are told to pick a point and draw and line showing "before this point the thing is not a person, after this point it is a person", which in my opinion and I believe Thomson’s as well is just showing the fetus and even the infant is not a person and makes the argument invalid. Then she also goes on to explore the idea that just because an acorn becomes an oak tree it doesn’t mean an acorn is an oak tree, or should just say this is true since we say a fetus is a person? If we......

Words: 1579 - Pages: 7

Is Abortion Moral? (from a Biblical Christian Perspective)

... Is Abortion Moral? (From a Biblical Christian Perspective) Name of Author College Abortion refers to the removal of the pregnancy tissues, which includes the fetus and the placenta from a pregnant woman's womb. The other terms that are similar are termination of pregnancy or elective abortion among others. There have been several arguments on whether abortion is morally right or not. The argument follows the opinions generated from the religious followers who are mostly against abortion. Child abandonment, infanticide, and abortion were allowed under the Roman law during the times of Jesus (Bokenkotter 1990). It is surprising to find that Jesus never addressed the case since for Christians to read. Even if He did, it was never documented. This concern can make a Christian fail to know whether abortion is condemned by God or not. From the Bible, there is no clear evidence on whether abortion is moral or immoral. However, drawing lessons from some of the verses in the bible clearly indicates that the practice of abortion violates the moral obligations. A good example is from the book of Jeremiah in the Bible, in chapter one from verse four to five, which say that before the birth of Jeremiah, the Lord had consecrated him. The Load had already chosen prophet Jeremiah to be a famous prophet to the nations. God Himself new Jeremiah as a human being before birth and considered him to live in order to carry out His mission. God could not have allowed Jeremiah to die. Biblically......

Words: 6080 - Pages: 25

Is Abortion Moral? (from a Biblical Christian Perspective)

... Is Abortion Moral? (From a Biblical Christian Perspective) Name of Author College Abortion refers to the removal of the pregnancy tissues, which includes the fetus and the placenta from a pregnant woman's womb. The other terms that are similar are termination of pregnancy or elective abortion among others. There have been several arguments on whether abortion is morally right or not. The argument follows the opinions generated from the religious followers who are mostly against abortion. Child abandonment, infanticide, and abortion were allowed under the Roman law during the times of Jesus (Bokenkotter 1990). It is surprising to find that Jesus never addressed the case since for Christians to read. Even if He did, it was never documented. This concern can make a Christian fail to know whether abortion is condemned by God or not. From the Bible, there is no clear evidence on whether abortion is moral or immoral. However, drawing lessons from some of the verses in the bible clearly indicates that the practice of abortion violates the moral obligations. A good example is from the book of Jeremiah in the Bible, in chapter one from verse four to five, which say that before the birth of Jeremiah, the Lord had consecrated him. The Load had already chosen prophet Jeremiah to be a famous prophet to the nations. God Himself new Jeremiah as a human being before birth and considered him to live in order to carry out His mission. God could not have allowed Jeremiah to die. Biblically......

Words: 6080 - Pages: 25

Abortion Paper

...always have a choice? Abortion has been one of the most hotly debated topics in the United States since it became legal in 1973. At first glance the argument has two basic sides. A women’s right to choose versus a baby’s right to life. Diving deeper into the debate, one will find out quickly that there are very few radicals that believe that one option is correct in every scenario. There is a huge grey area between the two sides. An author by the name of Judith Thomson wrote an interesting article giving her take on the grey area within the abortion debate. She talks about the concept of being a good Samaritan and being a minimally decent person. She relates this to the area of abortion by saying that there is a certain point where it would be morally impermissible to have an abortion because it would violate our duty of being minimally decent people. She gives her own example saying that it would not be moral for a woman that has been pregnant for seven months to get an abortion in order to look good for a vacation. This may be an idea of where Judith Thomson would draw the line on getting an abortion. However, the problem with the idea of minimal decency is that it is extremely vague. Being minimally decent might be different for every single person. An extreme pro-life person may argue that keeping a baby is minimally decent in every scenario while an extreme pro-choice person may argue that there is no point where it is not moral to get an abortion. Personally, I see......

Words: 1198 - Pages: 5

Abortion

...of the most controversial issues present in today’s society is abortion. Abortion is the termination of a fetus done purposely to prevent the birth of a child. Since abortions are now easier, less dangerous and more accessible than they once were; they have become the target of debate in every aspect of our lives. The issue of abortion has caused many heated debates in politics, religion and society in general; yet both sides seem to only see one side of the picture and avoid the issue as whole. One way of examining whether abortion is right or wrong is to look at whether or not the fetus is a person or not. This evaluation is done by Mary Anne Warren, in which she determines a set of criteria that both pro-abortionists and anti-abortionists can agree upon. Warren states that in order to be considered a fetus must: “have consciousness of objects and events, reasoning, self-motivated activity, capacity to communicate and the presence of self-concept and self-awareness.” Using these criteria, Warren determines that the fetus has not reached personhood and therefore, is not guaranteed the right to life. Thus, she believes that at least until birth the fetus has no moral status and a lacks a right to life. Warren’s argument may seem a bit flawed because her criteria do not provide a clear-cut way to distinguish between the fetuses in the stages of pregnancy or perhaps even the infant himself. According to her criteria, a newborn infant would not have a significant right to......

Words: 1617 - Pages: 7

Thompson: Permissible Abortion

...Word Count: 1258 Thomson: Permissible Abortion In this essay, I will argue that Thomson successfully defends the view that abortion is permissible in the case that the parents had protected sex (and this is not a minimally decent Samaritanism case). I will achieve this in four steps. Firstly, I will explain Thomson’s background ideals that a fetus is a person, and explain what a minimally decent Samaritanism is. Secondly, I will present Thomson’s argument. Thirdly, I will present one original objection to this argument. Lastly, I will argue that this objection isn’t strong enough to make Thomson’s argument unsuccessful. For her argument, Thomson assumes that the fetus is a person. She only assumes this because of the dimness of the prospects for ‘drawing a line’ in the development of the fetus. A human develops continuously from conception through birth into childhood, but picking a point to which something isn’t a person before this point and is a person after this point would be arbitrary. However, Thomson does think that a fetus has become a human being well before birth because of how early it acquires human characteristics. So, although it isn’t sure exactly where a fetus becomes a person, Thomson agrees that the fetus is a person before birth. Therefore, she grants that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception for her argument. (p. 146) Thomson also uses the phrase ‘minimally decent Samaritan’ in her argument. By this, she means one who doesn’t go out......

Words: 1262 - Pages: 6

Abortion

...Abortion Abortions are one of the many things that everyone has an opinion on. an abortion is, “the termination of a pregnancy after, accompanied by, resulting in, or closely followed by the death of the embryo or fetus as a spontaneous expulsion of a human fetus during the first 12 weeks of gestation--miscarriage, the induced expulsion of a human fetus, or the expulsion of a fetus by a domestic animal often due to infection at any time before completion of pregnancy.” Abortions have always been and will probably always be a controversial topic in which everyone will not agree upon. Some people believe it is a woman's prerogative to choose whether or not to have a child, while still many others believe it is "morally" wrong. On the other hand, there are moderates who disagree with the idea or the morality of abortion, but agree that there are certain circumstances that should give the woman the option.  Morality should be a standard at all times and abortion should be no exception. The decision to have an abortion should not be a woman’s choice. Every human has the fundamental right to life. As human life, the fetus has a right to life, and so no one should deny them the opportunity to grow and develop. For those pro-abortion, if the issue lies in the uncertainty of when the fetus can be considered human life, then they should not abort since “if you aren’t sure when shooting in a bush if the target is your fellow hunter or a deer, don’t shoot.” Finally, it is to be said......

Words: 2117 - Pages: 9

Abortion Essay Thomson Article

...Regrettably Inadequate Defence of Abortion This essay shall examine and critique Judith Jarvis Thomson’s analogy of the sickly violinist, as it relates to the moral permissibility of abortion. I shall conclude that the analogy is ultimately too dissimilar from a general case of abortion to be an accurate representation of the mother-foetus relationship. I will further conclude that at best the analogy only provides justification for abortion in cases of rape, and when a developing foetus becomes a threat to the mother’s life. The Impermissibility Argument Much of the debate concerning the permissibility of abortion surrounds the notion of ‘personhood’, specifically whether a developing foetus qualifies as such a being. Opponents of abortion expend much energy arguing for the conferring of personhood to the moment of conception, whilst the proponents argue this would be a misclassification. One would not call a pinecone a pine tree; to label a foetus as a person is similarly inappropriate (Thomson: Page 47). Thomson argues this tact distracts from the primary concern of abortion, for even if one grants that a foetus is a person, one’s work is still ahead of them to argue against the permissibility of abortion (Thomson: Page 48). The argument runs as follows: P1: As a person, the foetus has the right to life. P2: As a person, the woman has the right of autonomy concerning her own body. P3: The right to life is more important than the right to autonomy over......

Words: 2794 - Pages: 12

Moral Permissibility of Abortion

...Moral Permissibility of Abortion One question of great importance in today’s world deals with the moral permissibility of abortion. Traditional thought teaches that only in very rare occasions should it be permitted. Many modern thinkers tend to leave it up to the decision of the woman, who is under no responsibility to the fetus because it is not a fully developed person. The question of the moral permissibility of abortion, however, draws out a plethora of other questions such as: can a fetus be considered a human being? If so, when does it become a human being? Does a fetus have the same rights as a person? Is a woman required to sacrifice her health, interests, and commitments to sustain the fetus? In this essay, I will review the articles of Margaret Little and Judith Thomson to expose flaws in their arguments in behalf of abortion, and provide reasons that reject its permissibility. Thomson’s argument is known as the “Bodily Rights Argument,” which utilizes the analogy of the unconscious violinist to show that a pregnant mother, who did not chose to be in that situation, has no obligation to care for the life of the fetus against her will. This analogy tells of a person who is kidnapped and, upon waking, finds herself attached to medical equipment and lying next to a famous violinist. The violinist’s kidneys have failed him and aren’t able to remove toxins from his body, so they needed her, the one person with the right type of blood, to save the violinist. The......

Words: 1147 - Pages: 5

Abortion Defense

...Maxwell Husband St. Joseph’s University Moral Foundations T/TR 8:30-9:45 “Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice” Abortion is and forever will be a very controversial topic of discussion. It has been debated for years whether it is morally right or wrong. Abortion is a unique subject in that it involves not only morality but also a large amount of theology, emotion, and law. It is also unique because it forces people to choose one side or the other, there is a very small gray area when it comes to this debate, and the side that I will fall on in this essay is the pro-choice side. In this essay I will attempt prove that abortion is not murdering an innocent fetus and that the arguments for pro-choice are stronger than the ones for pro-life. The main point of disagreement between the two sides is what constitutes life, when does human life actually begin? I believe to construct a sound argument this issue must be examined first. I will then go on to cover other various pro-choice points such as a women’s right to choose, the quality of life for the potential child, and the extreme circumstances that will disprove the notion that abortion is morally wrong. As stated in my opening paragraph, the key issue in the case of abortion is determining the status of the fetus in the sense of its humanity. It is my belief that a fetus does not qualify as a human. I agree with Warren when she states that “human being” is a term that is not often distinguished, she suggests that there are two...

Words: 1818 - Pages: 8

Instrumental | Desetinná čísla - sčítání a odčítání | Várandós tinik