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Ethics - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

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Ethics. Part 2. Abortion Death and euthanasia Animal rights Eugenics/designer babies. Abortion. Abortion debates vary greatly, but if I teach you the arguments for the most hard line motion then everything else should be easy. THW ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy.

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Part 2

  • Abortion

  • Death and euthanasia

  • Animal rights

  • Eugenics/designer babies


  • Abortion debates vary greatly, but if I teach you the arguments for the most hard line motion then everything else should be easy.

  • THW ban abortion at all stages of pregnancy.

  • This debate can go one of two ways, but in both cases the prop line is pretty much the same.

  • The child's life begins somewhere after conception but we don’t know when so we should pick the cautionary option.

  • Vs

  • The child’s life begins at birth.

  • Or

  • The child’s life begins somewhere after conception and we don’t think we should be cautionary even if that means killing an innocent child.

The prop line

  • In this debate prop has to show that the right of the child to life trumps any harms done to the mother.

  • You can do this through a utilitarian calculus.

  • “The harms to the child are far greater than the harms to the mother, the right to life trumps the right to not be pregnant”

  • Or you can do this by suggesting that killing is always wrong.

  • “Some actions are just a priori wrong, if you suggest that killing a child is acceptable to prevent harms to the mother then why is it unacceptable to kill a child after 28 weeks”

Extra material.

  • Prop has a wealth of other material to draw on.

  • Prop can suggest that there is a brutalising effect where by people are having abortions who don’t need them.

  • Prop can suggest that the father has rights which are violated, the child after all is 50% his and abortions give sole rights to the mother.

  • Prop can suggest that the state offers alternatives such as adoption services, and that killing a child is not necessary.

  • The mother consented to the pregnancy when consenting to having sex.

The opposition line.

  • Opposition has to show why the mother has a right to have an abortion and why that right trumps the foetus’ right to life. (This is a lot harder than you might think)

  • You can choose to do this in two ways, you can suggest that the foetus isn’t alive until it is born or until some other arbitrary point in the pregnancy.

  • Or you can choose to say, even if life begins at conception a mother should still be able to have an abortion.

  • I recommend the second option, it gives you a stronger case and removes some very strong arguments from the proposition.

How the second option works.

  • The second option requires you to show that the mother will have harms put on her if she carries the child to term.

  • These harms can be:

  • Physical harm

  • Psychological harm

  • Social and economic harm

  • If you can prove that these harms exist then you have a foothold, but you still have to show that they trump the child’s right to life.

  • This part is up to you and your analysis, but I’ll give you a quick example using psychological harm.

The next step.

  • This is where things get complicated, no matter which harms you present proposition can always suggest the child is innocent in doing those harms.

  • You have to show why you can act in self defence against an innocent being.

  • Think about what would happen if an innocent wild animal attacked you and you killed it in self defence.

  • Also consider why you can’t act in a proportional way, the only action that prevents harm to the mother is abortion.

Extra material.

  • Opposition also has a lot of extra material to draw upon.

  • Adoption services still require you to be pregnant for 9 months, there are harms attached to that.

  • Back street abortions will spring up if you legislate against abortion.

  • The possibility of contraceptive failure and how that prevents people from consenting to a pregnancy.


  • When should you be able to take your own life?

  • Whenever you want?

  • When you are terminally ill?

  • Should someone else be able to take it for you?

  • There are so many possible euthanasia debates, but in 90% of cases the motion becomes the following, it might be set like this or the mechanism might define it as this:

  • THW legalise voluntary euthanasia for terminally ill patients on the condition of a psychiatric evaluation from multiple doctors.

  • Since this is the way most debates end up looking, this is the debate I am going to teach you.

The prop line.

  • The main argument here is that a person should be able to choose to die, that they have an autonomous right to do so.

  • You can show that a healthy person would be able to commit suicide without hindrance, why does a terminal illness make any difference.

  • You can suggest that a person should be allowed dignity in death, that they will undergo massive pain and the state has no right to inflict that pain upon them.

  • You can suggest that the rest of their life is going to be painful and that on a purely utilitarian basis there is no advantage to them staying alive.

The opposition line

  • Okay, this is where it gets difficult for most debaters, it’s therefore where I want to spend the most time. Most debaters find it difficult to say why euthanasia should be illegal, but there are arguments against it.

  • It puts doctors under insane moral pressure, not only does a doctor have to violate their oath but at what point should the doctor advise the patient to take their life.

  • There is always a chance that the patient might enter remission, if there is one case in a hundred where the state will have effectively sanctioned the death of a patient with a chance it becomes too risky.


  • You can suggest that there is no “right to die”, that the only reason suicide isn’t illegal is that the only proportional punishment would be the death penalty and that is absurd.

  • Suicide isn’t illegal, but assisting a suicide is.

  • The potential risks involved in allowing relatives and doctors to put pressure on a person to choose euthanasia. Murder on the sly.

  • And there’s one more argument, the slippery slope…

Animal rights

  • There are two motions that might come up:

  • THW become a vegetarian/ban meat/something similar

  • THW ban all experimentation on animals.

  • They both have some similar arguments in favour and against them, so we’re just going to cover them as a single topic.

  • When I refer to vegetarianism then obviously I am talking about the first motion.


  • Proposition need to show that animals have or should have similar rights to humans, the easiest way of doing this is to show that animals are similar to humans. (Peter singer)

  • Animals can experience pleasure and feel pain, so if this is what differences us from animals then it isn’t a difference.

  • Animals are definitely less capable intellectually, however there are humans who are intellectually incapable due to genetic or medical issues, so if this is used as the distinction then it should be acceptable to experiment on the mentally disabled.

  • Animals are unable to be held morally responsible for their actions, this makes them a lesser species. Again you can make a comparison to children or those with mental disablements.

Other arguments.

  • Animal cruelty caused by battery hen farming and other methods is cruel and not necessary.

  • A vegetarian diet is totally sustainable, there is no need to cause suffering to animals.

  • A vegetarian diet is increasingly becoming safer, diseases passed through meats at farms are creating a dangerous situation.

  • Animal experimentation doesn’t always produce the results stated, animals are not reliable substitutes for humans and human testing has to be carried out anyway. (penicillin is lethal to Guinea pigs for example)


  • Nature allows for it to happen in the wild, people are similarly just animals therefore they should be able to eat meat.

  • There is no alternative to animal testing, when all the arguments are put forward experimentation works and is the only option we have.

  • If you suggest that there is no difference between animals and us, how is there a difference between animals and plants, surely the logical extension of the argument means we shouldn’t eat.

Eugenics/designer babies.

  • There are a number of diseases that a modern Eugenics program would deal with, but just as equally the practice of designing a baby is seen as immoral by many in society.

  • There are two motions that stand out in this debate:

  • THW implement a eugenics program.

  • THW ban the creation of designer babies.

  • Both have similar arguments.


  • Natural selection stopped once we started to protect those with certain diseases, a system whereby we can have artificial natural selection would solve this problem.

  • The advancement of humanity has worked on natural selection just like all evolution, however the human race can’t improve further due to it’s abolition. Designer babies allow parents to artificially select their family's evolutionary path.

  • It works, it eradicates diseases and can be implemented in such a way as to prevent atrocities.

  • Not implementing this program is identical to giving people the disease.


  • It suggests that certain groups in society aren’t good enough and should be bread out of the human race.

  • It forces people to have abortions, or to carry out some other action (depending on the mechanism) that is bad.

  • Promotes a superficial understanding of human life whereby certain traits are seen as most valuable.

  • It devalues the accomplishments of those who are designed, society will set up a stigma whereby they are seen to achieve due to their design.

  • It takes away the altruistic nature of sperm donation, certain people will be rejected because they aren’t intellectual or attractive.

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