Life its rights and obligations
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Exploring Ethics: Ed. Cahn Thompson's A Defense of Abortion PowerPoint PPT Presentation


In this powerpoint, I present Thompson's argument for abortion.

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Exploring Ethics: Ed. Cahn Thompson's A Defense of Abortion

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Life its rights and obligations

Life: Its Rights and Obligations

Thompson and Rachels


Context minimalist ethics

Context: Minimalist Ethics


Context minimalist ethics1

Context: Minimalist Ethics

Minimalist Ethics seems most applicable when the relations between people are emphasized by their conflicting interests.

In a sense, minimalist ethics provides a context for compromise between competing interests.


Context minimalist ethics2

Context: Minimalist Ethics

  • What is the very least that humans are obligated to do in order to be ethical?

  • Very Good Samaritan

  • Minimally Decent Samaritan


Context minimalist ethics3

Context: Minimalist Ethics

Why is “least obligation” a good strategy?

  • In our pluralist society there are unknown competing interests to most (or all?) of our actions. Hence, the less we do for others, the less negative consequences our actions might have on others.

  • Each individual has multiple competing demands and may wish to maximize intellectual projects, aesthetic dimensions, spiritual pursuits, etc. and thus wishes to minimize her moral obligations.


Thompson s argument

Thompson’s Argument

  • Fetuses are humans who completely depend on the provision of another person (P) for their continued life.

  • There are some cases (C) where a fetus is made to be dependent by way of non-voluntary (or illegitimate) means.

  • P has the political right torefuse to provide for any other human in C (i.e. Minimally Decent Samaritan) [though they may morally ought to (i.e. Good Samaritan)].

  • So, the refusal by P to provide for fetuses in C is a political right.


Support for 3 political rights of the dependent violinist

Support for (3): Political Rights of the dependent Violinist

“[T]he fact that for continued existence that violinist needs the continued use of your kidneys does not establish that he has a right to be given the continued use of your kidneys (593).”


Support for 3 political rights of dependent fetus

Support for (3): Political Rights of dependent fetus

“So my own view is that even though you ought to let the violinist use your kidneys for the one hour he needs, we should not conclude that he has a right to do so...similarly, that even supposing a case in which a woman pregnant due to rape ought to allow the unborn person to use her body for the hour he needs, we should not conclude that he has a right to do so; we should say that she is self-centered, callous, indecent, but not unjust, if she refuses (595).”


Is 3 true natural vs artificial

Is (3) True?: Natural vs. Artificial

Objection: There is a relevant difference between the dependence of the violinist and the fetus. The fetus and its dependence on another person is a natural process of human reproduction that is necessary for the perpetuation of the human race.

Response: But what about “natural process” changes the status of moral relations between the dependent subject and the other person? Why should the use of technology—the use of artificial life support—have any moral bearing?


Is 3 true rights vs morals

Is (3) True?: Rights vs. Morals

Objection: It does not seem possible to separate the law from what is moral. The law should reflect the citizens views on what is at least reasonably good, if not maximally good.

Response 1: Theological Diversity

  • Individuals must obey and support their government and its laws (Rom. 13

  • Individuals must obey their conscience regarding right and wrong (Rom. 14).

  • Not all of one’s government and its laws are compatible with one’s conscience.

    Response 2: Intuition

    According to Rachels, there is no moral difference between a medical professional passively euthanizing a patient, which is legal, and actively euthanizing a patient, which is illegal.


Query about 2 widening the net

Query about (2): Widening the net?

The conditions of cases where a fetus is made to be dependent by way of non-voluntary means is vague.

“If the room is stuffy, and I therefore open a window to air it, and a burglar climbs in, it would be absurd to say, "Ah, now he can stay, she's given him a right to the use of her house--for she is partially responsible for his presence there, having voluntarily done what enabled him to get in, in full knowledge that there are such things as burglars, and that burglars burgle.'' It would be still more absurd to say this if I had had bars installed outside my windows, precisely to prevent burglars from getting in, and a burglar got in only because of a defect in the bars. It remains equally absurd if we imagine it is not a burglar who climbs in, but an innocent person who blunders or falls in. Again, suppose it were like this: people-seeds drift about in the air like pollen, and if you open your windows, one may drift in and take root in your carpets or upholstery. You don't want children, so you fix up your windows with fine mesh screens, the very best you can buy. As can happen, however, and on very, very rare occasions does happen, one of the screens is defective, and a seed drifts in and takes root. Does the person-plant who now develops have a right to the use of your house? Surely not--despite the fact that you voluntarily opened your windows, you knowingly kept carpets and upholstered furniture, and you knew that screens were sometimes defective. Someone may argue that you are responsible for its rooting, that it does have a right to your house, because after all you could have lived out your life with bare floors and furniture, or with sealed windows and doors. But this won't do--for by the same token anyone can avoid a pregnancy due to rape by having a hysterectomy, or anyway by never leaving home without a (reliable!) army (594).”


Do you have clarity now

Do you have clarity now?

  • It does not seem that whether the fetus is fully human is crucially relevant to the debate.

  • It does not seem that what one ought to do to be good is crucially relevant to the debate.

  • It does not seem that the process of fetal dependence being “natural” is crucially relevant to the debate.

  • It does not seem that the process of fetal origination is crucially relevant to the debate.


Do you have clarity now1

Do you have clarity now?

  • So, what does Thompson’s paper seem to show IS crucial to the debate?

    • That conflicting interests amongst individuals results in a need to:

      • divest one’s expectations for being a good person.

      • invest in one’s expectations for being a “tolerant” person who respects the “minimally decent” rights of the other.


General problem does any human have a right to life

General Problem: Does any human have a right to life?

Every human is dependent on the energy provided by a non-human form of energy: sun, thermal vents, natural motion, etc.


Example catastrophic energy base

Example: Catastrophic Energy Base


Do we have a right to live off of the nature s catastrophes

Do we have a right to live off of the nature’s catastrophes?

1) Humans completely depend on the provision of another thing, Natural Catastrophic Energy (NCE) for their continued life.

2) (NCE) has the ECOLOGICAL right to refuse to provide for any other human, though they morally ought not to.

3) So, the refusal to provide for HUMANS is an ECOLOGICAL right.


Response non catastrophic energy

RESPONSE: NON-CATASTROPHIC ENERGY

  • Humans must depend on resources other than that of Natural Catastrophic Energy, but rather Natural non-catastrophic energy, such as sun, wind, motion, etc.


Parallel response fetal rights and birth

Parallel Response: Fetal Rights and Birth

  • Those who support life must design a strategy for bringing it to term without dependence on another’s provision.

    • SHOULD PRO-LIFE ADVOCATES INVEST IN ENGINEERING TECHNOLOGY TO ADVANCE THEIR CAUSE?


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