During next weeks class, we will explore the ethics of abortion. We will examine some of the core issues in the abortion debate that continues to rage in our nation, and why such a topic remains decisively important in health care.
For this weeks Discussion Post, you are to read an article written by Don Marquis titled Why Abortion is Immoral. You can find this reading on pages 336 to 348 of our textbook. In this, Marquis argues that abortion is deeply immoral and problematic. This is not an easy read, so make sure you give yourself the time to really chew on the material.
After reading, write a general reflection discussing what you learned and what stood out to you. You are free to either agree or disagree with Marquis position, but you must directly reference his article in your response, and you are to show evidence that youve read the entire article.
Your response to the question should be original, thoughtful, and reference the material to support your point.
Your response should be nothing less than a full paragraph (150 to 200 words).
In addition, you are to respond to at least one of your peers answers with a substantial reply. Engage their answer thoughtfully. Dont just state that you agree/disagree, but articulate why.
Both your response to the question along with a response to a peer of your choosing is
(This is the reading)
Even so, the mentation requirement on victims ability is still subject to counterexamples. Suppose a
severe accident renders me totally unconscious for a
month, after which I recover. Surely killing me
while I am unconscious victimizes me, even though
I am incapable of mentation during that time. It follows that Bassens thesis fails. Apparently, attempts
to restrict the value of a future-like-ours argument
so that fetuses do not fall within its scope do not
In this essay, it has been argued that the correct
the ethic of the wrongness of killing can be extended to
fetal life and used to show that there is a strong presumption that any abortion is morally impermissible. If the ethic of killing adopted here entails,
however, that contraception is also seriously immoral,
then there would appear to be a difficulty with the
analysis of this essay.
But this analysis does not entail that contraception is wrong. Of course, contraception prevents
the actualization of a possible future of value.
Hence, it follows from the claim that if futures of
value should be maximized that contraception is
prima facie immoral. This obligation to maximize
does not exist, however; furthermore, nothing in
the ethics of killing in this paper entails that it does.
The ethics of killing in this essay would entail that
contraception is wrong only if something were
denied a human future of value by contraception.
Nothing at all is denied such a future by contraception, however.
Candidates for a subject of harm by contraception fall into four categories: (1) some sperm or
other, (2) some ovum or other, (3) a sperm and an
ovum separately, and (4) a sperm and an ovum together. Assigning the harm to some sperm is utterly
arbitrary, for no reason can be given for making a
sperm the subject of harm rather than an ovum.
Assigning the harm to some ovum is utterly arbitrary, for no reason can be given for making an
ovum the subject of harm rather than a sperm. One
might attempt to avoid these problems by insisting
that contraception deprives both the sperm and
the ovum separately of a valuable future like ours.
In this alternative, too many futures are lost.
Contraception was supposed to be wrong because
it deprived us of one future of value, not two. One
might attempt to avoid this problem by holding
that contraception deprives the combination of
sperm and ovum of a valuable future like ours. But
here the definite article misleads. At the time of
contraception, there are hundreds of millions of
sperm, one (released) ovum, and millions of possible combinations of all of these. There is no
actual combination at all. Is the subject of the loss
to be a merely possible combination? Which one?
This alternative does not yield an actual subject of
harm either. Accordingly, the immorality of contraception is not entailed by the loss of a future like-ours argument simply because there is no
non arbitrarily identifiable subject of the loss in the
case of contraception.
The purpose of this essay has been to set out an argument for the serious presumptive wrongness of
abortion subject to the assumption that the moral
permissibility of abortion stands or falls on the
the moral status of the fetus. Since a fetus possesses a
property, the possession of which in adult human
beings are sufficient to make killing an adult human
being wrong, abortion is wrong. This way of dealing
with the problem of abortion seems superior to
other approaches to the ethics of abortion, because
it rests on the ethics of killing which is close to
self-evident, because the crucial morally relevant
the property clearly applies to fetuses, and because
the argument avoids the usual equivocations on
human life, human being, or person. The argument rests neither on religious claims nor surely does not itself rule out killing the above patient. This account must make some reference to the
value of the patients future experiences and projects also. Hence, both accounts involve the value of
experiences, projects, and activities. So far we still
have symmetry between the accounts.
The symmetry fades, however, when we focus on
the time period of the value of the experiences, etc.,
which has moral consequences. Although both accounts leave open the possibility that the patient in
our example may be killed, this possibility is left
open only in virtue of the utterly bleak future for
the patient. It makes no difference whether the patients immediate past contains intolerable pain,
consists in being in a coma (which we can imagine
is a situation of indifference), or consists of a life of
value. If the patients future is a future of value, we
want our account to make it wrong to kill the patient. If the patients future is intolerable, whatever
his or her immediate past, we want our account to
allow killing the patient. Obviously, then, it is the
value of that patients future that is doing the
work in rendering the morality of killing the patient
This being the case, it seems clear that whether
one has immediate past experiences or not does no
work in the explanation of what makes killing
wrong. The addition the discontinuation account
makes to the value of a human future account is
otiose. Its addition to the value-of-a-future account
plays no role at all in rendering intelligible the
wrongness of killing. Therefore, it can be discarded
with the discontinuation account of which it is a
The analysis of the previous section suggests that
alternative general accounts of the wrongness of
killing are either inadequate or unsuccessful in getting around the anti-abortion consequences of the
value of a future-like-ours argument. A different
strategy for avoiding these anti-abortion consequences involves limiting the scope of the value of a
future argument. More precisely, the strategy involves arguing that fetuses lack a property that is
essential for the value-of-a-future argument (or for
any anti-abortion argument) to apply to them.
One move of this sort is based upon the claim
that a necessary condition of ones future being
valuable is that one values it. Value implies a valuer.
Given this one might argue that, since fetuses
cannot value their futures, their futures are not
valuable to them. Hence, it does not seriously wrong
them deliberately to end their lives.
This move fails, however, because of some ambiguities. Let us assume that something cannot be of
value unless it is valued by someone. This does not
entail that my life is of no value unless it is valued by
me. I may think, in a period of despair, that my
future is of no worth whatsoever, but I may be
wrong because others rightly see the valueeven great
valuein it. Furthermore, my future can be valuable to me even if I do not value it. This is the case
when a young person attempts suicide, but is rescued and goes on to significant human achievements. Such young peoples futures are ultimately
valuable to them, even though such futures do not
seem to be valuable to them at the moment of attempted suicide. A fetuss future can be valuable to
it in the same way. Accordingly, this attempt to
limit the anti-abortion argument fails.
Another similar attempt to reject the anti-abortion
the position is based on Tooleys claim that an entity
cannot possess the right to life unless it has the capacity to desire its continued existence. It follows
that, since fetuses lack the conceptual capacity to
desire to continue to live, they lack the right to life.
Accordingly, Tooley concludes that abortion cannot
be seriously prima facie wrong.
What could be the evidence for Tooleys basic
claim? Tooley once argued that individuals have a
prima facie right to what they desire and that the
lack of the capacity to desire something undercuts
the basis of ones right to it. This argument plainly
will not succeed in the context of the analysis of this
essay, however, since the point here is to establish
the fetuss right to life on other grounds. Tooleys
argument assumes that the right to life cannot be
established in general on some basis other than the
desire for life. This position was considered and rejected in the preceding section of this paper.
One might attempt to defend Tooleys basic
claim on the grounds that, because a fetus cannot
apprehend continued life as a benefit, it’s continued
Papal dogma. It is not subject to the objection of
speciesism. Its soundness is compatible with
the moral permissibility of euthanasia and contraception. It deals with our intuitions concerning young children.
Finally, this analysis can be viewed as resolving a
standard problemindeed, the standard problem
concerning the ethics of abortion. Clearly, it is
wrong to kill adult human beings. Clearly, it is not
wrong to end the life of some arbitrarily chosen
single human cell. Fetuses seem to be like arbitrarily chosen human cells in some respects and