Medical Ethics
Michael Green
Manuel Vargas
phone, office information

06 April. The Extreme View
08 April. The Voluntariness Objection
10 April. Samaritanism and objections
13 April. Warren's criticism, more voluntariness
15 April. Fetuses aren't persons?
20 April. Does Marquis have to say contraception is wrong?
20 April. Nicole's point, one more time.
22 April. Wrapping Up

Medical Ethics: 03 April. The Basic Argument Against Abortion

Introduction Abortion is, obviously enough, a controversial moral issue. We'll only deal with some aspects of the controversy over abortion. They're the central moral issues, in my opinion, but they aren't all of the issues.

Why do Americans try to turn every moral question into a legal issue? Perhaps it's because the population of the US is so diverse. Since we can't count on sharing a deep set of moral principles with one another, we argue in terms that we know we all share: those established by our legal system. True to form, almost all public discussion of the morality of abortion has been in reference to court cases.

Thomson and the standard debate Many people assume that the morality of abortion turns on whether the fetus is a person or not. Thomson doubts that this is true. She claims that abortion rights can be supported even if one grants, for the sake of argument, that the fetus is a person.

Parallel cases To show that this is so, Thomson gives us a case that, she claims, is exactly like a typical abortion case except that the person who will die is unquestionably a person: he's not just a person, he's an accomplished violinist!

Everything turns on Thomson's ability to show that these two cases really are analogous to one another. Opponents will try to break the parallel, that is, they will try to show that the two cases are dissimilar in morally important ways.

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