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Medical Ethics: First Assignment
This assignment was distributed in class on Monday, 22 April.
Respond to one of the following in five pages, using a twelve point font and double-spaced lines. Papers are due in class on Monday, 4 May. Good luck!
1. Thomson's violinist example is supposed to show that there is something wrong with this argument against abortion: fetuses are persons, persons have a right to life, therefore, abortion violates a fetus's right to life and is morally wrong. How does Thomson use the violinist example to reply to this argument? What, in your opinion, is the strongest reason for thinking that pregnancy and Thomson's violinist case are dissimilar? How does Thomson respond to this alleged dissimilarity? (If you proposed a reason that Thomson does not consider, say how you think she might respond). Is her reply successful?
2. What objection is Thomson's burglar example (pp. 58-9) supposed to refute? Explain how the objection threatens Thomson's position and how the example is supposed to defeat the objection. What, in your opinion, is the strongest reason for thinking that the example fails to refute the objection? Does the example refute the objection or not?
3. Suppose someone objected to Warren's defense of abortion in this way: if Warren's defense of abortion were right, my cat would have a stronger right to life than a human infant, but my cat doesn't have a stronger right to life than a human infant, so Warren's argument must be wrong. Why would someone believe this? What is the best reply Warren might make to this objection? Would that reply defeat the objection?
4. Is Marquis committed to saying that the use of contraception is immoral? Why would someone think that he is? Why does he think he is not? What's the truth of the matter: is he committed to holding that the use of contraception is immoral or not? What impact does that have on his argument: does it make it seem more plausible than it otherwise would, less plausible than it otherwise would, or is it irrelevant?
5. Why does Marquis think that killing a person is wrong? Why does Warren think that killing a person is wrong? How would Warren respond to Marquis's argument? What would Marquis say in defense of his argument? Which author has the stronger position?
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