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Marquis vs. Thomson on Abortion

Whether the human fetus has the right to life, and, if so, 2. ) Whether the rights of the mother override the rights of the fetus. The two ethicists who present strong arguments for their position, and who I am further going to discuss are that of Don Marquis and Judith Thomson. Marquis’ “Future Like Ours” (FOOL) theory represents his main argument, whereas, Thomson uses analogies to influence the reader of her point of view.

Each argument contains strengths and weaknesses, and the point of this paper is to show you that Marquis resents a more sound argument against abortion than Thomson presents for It. An in depth overview of both arguments will be presented in the paper, as well as a critique of both the pros and cons that stem out from the question-begging arguments. To begin with, Marquis claims that abortion, except perhaps In rare Instances, Is seriously wrong. His pro-life position Is done without the appeal to Persephone and done without appeal to religious premises.

In spite of the fact that Marquis does not rely on the concept of Persephone, he shares a key supposition with those who do: whether or not abortion is wrong, in his outlook, depends on something about the fetus; it depends on “whether a fetus is the sort of being whose life it is seriously wrong to end. ” He believes the fetus is such a being, and he sets forth an analysis of why. He does this by first stating It Is appropriate by discussing what It Is about us that makes killing us, not only wrong, but seriously wrong. To understand the wrongness in killing us must be done in terms of what killing us does to us.

Marquis states that killing us “imposes on us the misfortune of premature death. That softener underlies the wrongness. ” Further, that when one is dead, one has been deprived of life due to the fact that premature death is a misfortune. Also, that premature death deprives an Individual of a future of value. Thus, killing someone Is wrong, In general, when It deprives that person a future Like ours, which he calls a “FOOL. ” In Marquis’ FOOL theory are four arguments that support this account of the wrongness of killing. The first argument is the considered Judgment argument.

Here, it argues in favor of the FOOL theory because it fits with our considered Judgment concerning the nature of he misfortune of death. In other words, It explains the regret and sense of loss felt by those who know they are dying, such as those with AIDS or some form of Incurable cancer. The second is the worst of crimes argument. Basically it states why we observe killing as an especially evil crime. That it deprives us more than that of being robbed, beaten, or harmed in any other way, because being killed deprives us of ALL of the value of our future.

The FOOL theory doesn’t lead to that killing Is always wrong, for The third is the appeal to cases argument. Here, Marquis states that the FOOL theory revised answers in many life and death cases that arise in medicine and have interested philosophers. First, he states that we believe it is not wrong to remove a ventilator tube from a patient who is permanently unconscious, because the patient can’t have a future of value, therefore, death can’t be a misfortune to them. However, a patient known to be in temporary unconsciousness is presumed to have a future of value and therefore it would be wrong to remove their ventilator tube from them.

This shows that the wrongness of killing doesn’t include present consciousness as a necessary condition for the wrongness of killing. Also, it implies that creatures such as (peaceful) aliens have the right to life such as ours, and that it needs not to be qualified on a biological basis. Another aspect of this argument is that it provides the wrongness of killing infants. Marquis states that there was a class of infants who had futures that include a class of events that are identical to the futures of the readers of his essay.

Therefore, it explains why it is wrong to kill a person while they were and infant as it is to kill them now. The conclusion of this argument is that because abortion involves killing fetus and fetus have FLOSS for exactly the same reason infants have Floss, and then abortion is immoral. Lastly, Marquis offers an analogy, the analogy with animals. He goes to show that humans are not the only living things that can suffer. That the suffering of non- human animals is wrong, and thus inflicting pain, whether it is towards a person or non-person is wrong.

To deprive someone of a future value is a misfortune no matter whom the deprivation in inflicted on. This analogous argument goes to show that abortion is wrong by taking the same form of this argument for that causing pain and suffering to non-human animals is wrong. Now on a different note, Thomson main argument is set out to undermine the anti- abortionist argument. The anti-abortionist argument states: Every person has a right to life, the fetus is a person and hence has a right to life. The mother has the right to control her own body, but the fetus’ right to life is stronger than her right to control her body.

Therefore, abortion is wrong. How Thomson goes about this is through analogies, and her main argument is through her violinist argument. Thomson asks you imagine that you find yourself hooked up to a famous unconscious violinist. If he can’t use your kidneys for nine months, he’ll die. You are in this situation not because you decided to be but because the Society of Music Lovers kidnapped you. All the same, the violinist himself is perfectly innocent; he had no part in creating your quandary. Is it morally incumbent on you to agree to this predicament?

By all means, every person has a right to life, and the violinist is a person, therefore, he has a right to life. What Thomson was trying to get at was the fact that you are not obligated to stay connected even though the violinist has a right to life. How this relates to abortion is that the violinist and a fetus have the same analogous properties: Both ere connected to you without your permission; both have a right to life; and both will die if they are not connected to you for nine months. The violinist has the further has the property that it also has no right to be connected to your body.

Another argument that Thomson presents is that of killing and letting die. She argues that the extreme anti-abortionist view holds that abortion is wrong even to save the mother’s life. Thomson thinks that the extreme view can’t be right, because it needs some premise such as such as “It is always wrong to kill and innocent person directly r “We have a stronger duty not to kill an innocent person than we do to prevent the death of an innocent person. ” To explain this, she goes back to her violinist analogy and puts another twist to it.

She states, that the doctor comes in and tells you that the situation is putting stress on your kidneys and as a result, you will die. However, the violinist will live. Yet, the doctor says you cannot unplug yourself because that will kill the violinist directly. Here, Thomson point is that there is one thing for sure, that you have the right to unplug yourself to save your life. If this holds true, then the argument save the mothers life is unsound. Thomson then goes on about third party interventions. Her analogy here is this: You are freezing and so is Jones.

You both are struggling over a coat that you both need in order to survive, however, the coat is yours. Also, that you can hire a third party to intervene to help you do what you have a right to do, that being to get your coat. The analogous properties are clear; a woman states he body is hosting a child, also that she has a right to her body. And if so, she, therefore, has the right to have someone help protect what is hers. Next, Thomson addresses the question whether the fetus has some right to the use of the mother’s body. We can say that in the case of rape, No!

Yet, we can say that for voluntary intercourse the woman is partly responsible for the situation. However, does it give the fetus rights? Here, Thomson uses the analogy of the burglar. Say a burglar, or even an innocent person ends up in your house due to a faulty security system, that doesn’t give them the right to live in your house. Even though this is true, it didn’t seem to get far, because a burglar is purposely violating your rights, which can hardly give him rights. Then Thomson refers to a case involving contraception.

What if a woman uses a state-of-the-art birth control to prevent pregnancy, does the baby or fetus still have the right to her body? Another analogy is used, this one containing the example of people’s. Here people’s drift in the air like pollen, and if the window is opened, one might come in and root up in the carpet. You don’t want children, so you invest in state-of-the-art fine mesh screens. However, on rare occasions there is a defect in the screen and a peoples drifts its way in. Does this give the people seed the right to grow in your house?

Of course not, and it goes to say that if a woman has taken the precautions, has she actually given the fetus a right to her own body? Here, Thomson notes that in this case, abortion is acceptable. To further understand each author’s points, it is best to find the strengths and weaknesses of both their arguments. To start, I will begin with Marquis’ FOOL theory. Objection is that of the potentiality objection. This states that if you say a fetus has a FOOL then that is saying that fetus have the potential to be in a certain kind of state of value. For example, a potential president doesn’t have the right to the presidency.

Also, a potential voter doesn’t have the right to vote. However, what makes this a weak objection is that the FOOL theory is based upon the adult’s potentiality to have a future value, not to bridge the gap between a fetus and an adult. A second weakness found in the FOOL theory is that from the argument from interests. It states that even though fetus have Fool’s, insentient fetus don’t meet the minimum requirements for having any moral standing because they lack interests, in which Steinbeck states. Steinbeck concludes, “… For without conscious awareness, beings cannot have interests.

Without interests, they cannot have welfare of their own… Hence, they lack moral standing or status. ” However, Marquis refutes this by stating that temporarily unconscious human beings are insentient, yet, they don’t lack interests or moral standing. Thus, life support can be in the interest of a temporarily unconscious human even though that person is incapable of taking an interest. Therefore, why is it hard to see that a insentient fetus, which is temporarily unconscious, doesn’t have the interest even though incapable of taking interest such as that of the patient in temporary unconsciousness?

This Just threatens Marquis’ argument even more. A third weakness found in the FOOL theory is the problem of equality. This argument makes it seem far worse to kill a five year old oppose to killing an eighty year old. Yet, we all believe that all people have an equal right to life. This is a strong objection to Marquis’ theory, however, his theory doesn’t imply that it is worse to kill younger people than older people. Marquis gives a good example of how killing of older people and killing of younger people is the same and that there is equality.

He talks about a person’s past admirably and how that the amount of past admirably will ray with age, meaning the older you get, your past admirably will grow, whereas, deprivation will vary inversely to your age, meaning the younger you are the more you are being deprived. Yet the weakness I have found here is that, what if the older person’s past isn’t so great, does that mean the younger person has more of a right to life then the older? Marquis fails to address this situation, however, he does state that a sound ethical argument should not be required to resolve every disputed question.

This too, I believe Just adds to the weaknesses in his argument, because he is stating that his answers are not complete. A final argument to his theory is that of the contraception objection. This is based on the claim that, because contraception results in one less FOOL, the FOOL argument entails that contraception, indeed, abstention from sex when conception is possible, is immoral. Therefore, causing a flaw in his theory. However, Marquis replies that contraception is different from abortion, because there is no certain being who’s future is being cut off.

He states there are four beings that have the potential of being cut off: the sperm cell, the ovum, the sperm-ovum pair considered separately, the sperm and the ovum alone do not determine a being. Also, that the sperm-ovum considered separately counts too many beings. Furthermore, on any situation of intercourse, there are literally millions of sperm that are released. Therefore, which one is to be counted at the one to have its future cut off? Thus, there can be no determinate for a combination of sperm and ovum together.

This seems to be what destroys his theory and thus being the major weakness. Thomson too contains many strengths and weaknesses to her arguments as well. A major weakness can be found in the violinist argument. When she states that you have been kidnapped, this obviously shows that your rights have been violated, and hat you have been an injustice. Also, there is a total lack of voluntaries. Thus in a normal case of pregnancy, you engage voluntarily in sexual relations which has led to conception whether you wanted it or not.

Therefore, a person is not pregnant only through some injustice, some violation of one’s rights. Furthermore, it is somewhat clouded that a person’s obligation in the violinist case really parallels a woman’s obligation in a normal pregnancy, that being pregnancy not involving rape. The strength in the violinist argument is that she is not because she thinks it proves abortion is acceptable, but to show that the anti-abortionist general argument is not acceptable. She states that if an argument is correct, then if you were to apply it to other cases, it should also be correct.

The general anti-abortionist argument is that in the case of abortion, respecting a right to life opposed to a right to control one’s body should always win. However, this creates the wrong result when it is applied to the violinist analogy, thus it can’t produce the right result in an abortion case. Thomson argument that voluntaries of normal sexuality doesn’t give the fetus any sights contains many weaknesses when she tries to describe it through her analogies with the burglar or an innocent person involuntarily falling into her house.

First, when she begins her burglar analogy and states that she opens a window and a burglar climbs in, it would be insane to say that he can now stay, and that she has given him a right to the use of her house. Also, that she is somewhat responsible for his presence there, having voluntarily opened the window. A second weakness in the burglar analogy, is that if bars were installed on her windows and the burglar got in because of a defect, goes to say that a woman who as sex carelessly, and a woman who has sex carefully, but is unlucky, are in the same situation?

Thomson thinks so, that neither invited the guest in or gave the guest any rights to the use of her body. Yet, both of these stories have a burglar, and a burglar has no right to be in anyone’s house, whether a window is open or not. A burglar does do you a wrong by entering, yet it is foolish to think that the fetus does you a wrong in being conceived, that it violates your rights. The burglar is guilty as soon as he steps into your house, yet the fetus is innocent in being inside a mother if he mother has voluntary intercourse, and only the mother and her partner are the A final weakness comes from Thomson people’s analogy.

If people’s are like pollen, would putting up screens help at all? Wouldn’t you too be giving off seeds yourself, and thus trapping your own seeds in the house? Then you would also not allow other people in your house because their pollen might fertilize your carpet, and then you would have to care for their children? There is Just too many inconsistencies within this analogy to make it a sound argument, thus making it a weak one. As you can see, both Marquis’ FOOL theory and Thomson arguments through analogies have their strengths and their weaknesses.

Yet if you take a closer look, it is easy to see that Marquis’ arguments provide a more concrete foundation for an argument against abortion. Marquis uses arguments that relate to everyday life, such as that about the wrongness of killing. However, Thomson has to use these far- fetched analogies, that no way are real to our way of living, such as that of a unconscious violinist or people’s. Therefore, I conclude that Marquis’ argument against abortion is a stronger one than that of Thomson for it.

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