Thomson on abortion
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Thomson on Abortion All human beings have a right to life The fetus is clearly human Therefore the fetus has a right to life and abortion ought not be performed. Only people have a right to life The fetus is not a person

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Presentation Transcript

Two old arguments l.jpg

All human beings have a right to life

The fetus is clearly human

Therefore the fetus has a right to life and abortion ought not be performed.

Only people have a right to life

The fetus is not a person

Therefore the fetus does not have a right to life and abortion is permissible

Two old arguments


Another anti abortion argument l.jpg
Another anti-abortion argument

  • All persons have a right to life

  • The fetus is a person

  • Therefore, the fetus may not be killed and abortion is wrong

    Thomson thinks this argument is invalid. We can accept the truth of the premises without accepting the conclusion..


The violinist example l.jpg
The violinist example

  • Suppose you wake up one day attached to a famous violinist. You are informed that if you detach yourself from the violionist the violinist dies. Are you obliged to remain attached?

  • Note: the V. is obviously a person, and therefore has a right to life

  • So if you agree you have a right to detach,

    You recognize the anti abortion argument is invalid.


Obj this is only analogous to involuntary pregnancy l.jpg
Obj: this is only analogous to involuntary pregnancy

  • Thomson replies: It still shows the argument is invalid. How much is agreeing to have sex similar to a contract to have a baby?

  • Consider another example: Suppose you lived in a world in which people grew on carpets and upholstery. They just fly in through the window and take root. But you don’t want children and you want fresh air, so you put up screens to keep the people seeds out.

  • But the screen breaks, and seeds fly in


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