Critical thinking lecture 13a thomson s a defense of abortion
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Critical Thinking Lecture 13a Thomson’s A Defense of Abortion. By David Kelsey. The most common argument for the impermissibility of abortion. The main argument strategy for the impermissibility of abortion: 1-A fetus is a person 2-Every person has a right to life

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Critical Thinking Lecture 13a Thomson’s A Defense of Abortion

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Critical thinking lecture 13a thomson s a defense of abortion

Critical ThinkingLecture 13aThomson’s A Defense of Abortion

By David Kelsey


The most common argument for the impermissibility of abortion

The most common argument for the impermissibility of abortion

  • The main argument strategy for the impermissibility of abortion:

    • 1-A fetus is a person

    • 2-Every person has a right to life

    • 3-A fetus has a right to life (from 1 & 2)

    • 4-A woman has a right to decide what happens in and to her body

    • 5-The fetus’ right to life trumps the mother’s right to decide what happens in and to her body.

    • 6-Abortion is impermissible.

    • Where would you challenge this argument?


Thomson rejects premise 5

Thomson rejects premise 5

  • In response to the argument from the previous slide:

    • Most folks try to argue that premise 1 is false.

      • They try to argue that ______________________.

    • Thomson tries a different tact:

      • Which premise does she go after?

      • Thomson argues that the scope of the right to life of the fetus doesn’t include the right to the use of the expectant mother’s body

      • Thus, the mother’s right to control what happens in & to her body cannot be trumped by ____________________.

      • What kind of argument does Thomson make?


The violinist analogy

The Violinist Analogy

  • The Violinist analogy is supposed to be analogous to a case in which a woman becomes pregnant as a result of rape.

  • The terms of the analogy:

    • The violinist is analogous to ___________.

    • The kidnap victim is analogous to ___________.

    • Unplugging from the violinist is analogous to ______________.

  • Question: Would you unplug from the Violinist?

    • If so you must also accept what?


The tiny house

The Tiny House

  • This case is analogous to one in which pregnancy will result in the death of the mother.

  • Terms of the analogy:

    • The rapidly growing child is analogous to __________.

    • The mother trapped in the house is analogous to _____________.

    • Killing the rapidly growing child is analogous to ___________.

  • If your intuition is that the mother has the right to defend her life against the rapidly growing child, you must admit what?


People seeds

People Seeds

  • The People seeds case is supposed to be analogous to a case in which a pregnancy resulted although some form of protection was used.

  • Terms of the analogy:

    • The people seeds are analogous to _________.

    • The house is supposed to be analogous to ___________.

    • The fine mesh screen is analogous to _____________.

  • Thomson thinks the person plant that finds it’s way through the screen and develops doesn’t have a right to the use of your house.

    • So according to Thomson, a fetus that results from the use of protection has no right to the use of what?


Minimally decent samaritans

Minimally decent Samaritans

  • For Thomson, it’s not that she thinks that any old reason for having an abortion will justify getting the abortion.

  • If it is a mere inconvenience for the woman to get the abortion, then it would be indecent of her to do so.

    • Question: what if pregnancy lasted only an hour?

    • So Thomson thinks the mother must be at least a __________________.

    • The case of Kitty Genovese!


Objections to thomson the weirdness objection

Objections to Thomson:The Weirdness objection

  • Thomson’s Violinist case and the others are too dissimilar to the different cases of abortion because Thomson’s cases are all too weird.

  • The reply:

    • Questionable relevance


The tacit consent objection

The Tacit Consent Objection

  • What does Thomson say about consensual sex?

    • What if the expecting parents wanted to have a child all along and then something came up? What if they changed their minds?

  • Thomson’s response:

    • If it isn’t too much of an inconvenience on the mother to have the child then she ought to.

    • If it is too much of a burden on the mother then abortion is permissible because, after all, consent can be withdrawn.


The responsibility objection

The Responsibility objection

  • You have a responsibility to care for the fetus in all cases except rape whereas in Thomson’s analogies, for example the people seeds analogy, you have no such responsibility.

  • Reply: But does this added responsibility widen the scope of the fetus’ right to life?


The killing vs letting die objection

The Killing vs. Letting Die objection

  • Killing and letting die:

    • The Violinist case is a case of letting the violinist die.

    • Abortion is killing.

    • Question: Is killing worse than letting die?

  • Response:

    • The killing and letting die distinction does no work because Thomson is worried only about what?


The stranger vs offspring objection

The Stranger vs. OffspringObjection

  • The objection:

    • The violinist is a stranger

    • The mother child relationship is special though.

    • It is this relationship which obligates the mother to bring the child to term.

  • Response:

    • What’s the relevance of this objection?


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