Thomson vs. Marquis Blake Place Philosophy 160 Monday Wednesday 10:40AM – 12:05PM
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The question between whether abortion is morally right or wrong has been talked about for years and no common ground has been made. Judith Thomson, a believer in Pro-choice, argues that abortion is not wrong because the mother should have a choice of what happens to her body. In response to this, Donald Marquis who is against abortion believes every fetus is a human with a right to have a future like ours. Each Ethicist gives examples and theories as to why abortion is wrong or right. In this essay, I will attempt to show that abortion is okay in some cases, and Donald Marquis’s views and arguments are broad and incorrect.
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Abortion has always struck an uncommon ground between people, especially when rape or contraceptive failure is the reason for the abortion. Judith Thompson starts by explaining the Violinist argument. The argument is something like this; you wake up in the morning and you find yourself back to back with an unconscious, world famous violinist. The Violinist, come to find out, has a rare kidney disease that can be fatal if he doesn’t have a donor with the same blood type. The Society of Music Lovers looked everywhere for someone with the same blood type, and found that you were the only compatible donor in the world.
So without your permission, they took you in your sleep and hooked you up to the violinist blood stream. The director of the hospital tells you that he is so sorry that the Society of Music Lovers did this to you, and they wouldn’t have let it happen if he knew what was going on. But unfortunately it happened, and to disconnect you before the nine month treatment would kill the violinist. After the nine months, you can be safely disconnected from the Violinist and move on with your life. 1. The violinist and the fetus (which is a result from rape) are both living and dependent on another person for survival 2.
The violinist possesses the trait of being attached to a person against their will leaving that person the choice to remain connected to the violinist. ________________________________________________________________________ 3. [Likely] The fetus also possesses the trait of being attached to a person against their will leaving that person the choice to remain connected to the fetus. Therefore, the violinist and fetus have no right to stay connected to another person’s body without their consent furthering the argument that abortion is allowed in the case of rape.
Thomson also gives an argument in the case that you have consensual sex and the contraceptive that you use fails. Suppose that people seeds floated around the air like little pollen and can attach themselves to the carpet inside your house. You decide that you do not want children, so you put a fine mesh screen in front of your windows so you can leave them open without one of the seeds attaching themselves to your carpet. On occasion, the mesh screens can have a default, and in your case, the mesh screen failed and a seed attached to your carpet.
Thomson does acknowledge that you intentionally opened your windows and knew that there could be risk of one of the seeds getting into your home. 1. The peopleseed and the fetus (which is a result from failed contraceptive) are both living and dependent on another person for their survival. 2. The peopleseed possesses the trait of being attached to a person against their will leaving that person the choice to remain connected to the peopleseed. _____________________________________________________________________ 3. Likely] The fetus possesses the trait of being attached to a person against their will leaving that person the choice to remain connected to the fetus. Thomson concludes that even though peopleseed needed your help to survive, that you are not unjust or morally wrong when it comes to aborting a fetus. Don Marquis, on the other hand, believes that abortion is wrong. He first starts by stating, that in the thought of abortion being wrong, some cases like rape or contraceptive failure, abortion during the first fourteen days is an exception to his theory.
Marquis takes a stand on the fact that every fetus, regardless of age, sex, ethnicity, etc. has the right to life. Unlike Thomson, he believes that the right for women to decide what happens to her body does not give her the right to kill a human. Marquis has an argument in which he believes proves that abortion is wrong by using what he calls the F. L. O. Principle. 1. Killing any human removes that human’s potential future like ours or F. L. O. 2. Abortion by definition of terms is the killing of a human fetus which removes the F. L. O. from that fetus _____________________________________________________________________ 3.
Therefore, abortion is wrong Marquis comes up with four different arguments that help support the F. L. O. theory by showing that it not only does it apply to abortion but other cases as well. The first is the considered judgments theory which explains that fact of killing someone has to do with death by nature is a calamity. For example someone with cancer might say that the loss of FLO is what makes his early death such a sad event. The second is the worst of crimes argument, when someone is murdered it gets rid of their FLO immediately, rather than when someone is beat or robbed.
The third argument is the appeal to cases argument. Someone who is permanently unconscious has no FLO and it is not wrong to end the life of someone in this state, but you wouldn’t end the life of someone who was temporarily unconscious. The last is the analogy with animals argument which is simple, it states that is should be easy to see abortion is wrong because you wouldn’t cause pain or suffering to non-human animals. In Thomson’s two arguments about rape and failure of contraceptive she has some points that are in fact true and not much can be questioned.
In her first argument about rape, it makes sense to say that if someone were to use your body against your will and you have no say about it and be and you are forced to be stuck without a choice to get up and disconnect yourself even if it does kill the famous violinist is wrong. But when you deprive someone of their life it can’t be seen to be correct in any case. Thomson’s first premise is in fact true and gives her argument against rape logical strength. Both the violinist and the fetus are using the person’s body without consent or approval and this use of body was forced on the person.
The second premise in this rape argument also can be looked at and seen to be true. Any violinist no matter how famous can’t just expect to have someone let them use their body as they please. The violinist does possess the trait that if the person was disconnected from him then the violinist would die but that is not the person who is hooked to the violinist’s fault. They never did agree to help or even be a part of what now is a situation in which they must stay to keep a complete stranger alive. Thomson’s second premise is true which is what makes this argument a logical strength.
Also since both of the premises are true and logically correct, we are able to see the conclusion Thomson comes up with in the rape and contraceptive argument are both logically correct. In my opinion Thomson isn’t trying to say that abortion should be used as birth control, absolutely not, but she is just trying to get across that in certain cases it is completely okay and women have a right to decide whether or not they want to use their body for a fetus just like anyone would have a right to decide whether or not they wanted to help a stranger with a medical condition that involved being attached for a long period of time like pregnancy.
In Marquis’s arguments the premises he provides tend to be a little broad and very questionable. His first premise about killing any human removes them of their FLO, too many can be extremely questionable. What if that human is still a fetus and is diagnosed with severe disease that removes them a normal human’s FLO? You knew this fetus would be born and would live in a world where they couldn’t even tell you the difference in direction (right or left). One could say that this isn’t a “future like ours” anymore at this point this future would be very limited and not nearly like a future that someone without this sort of handicap would have.
With being able to find a way around Marquis’s argument it really shows the logical weakness in the argument. The FLO principle although backed by 4 different arguments is still very broad and has many different ways around it. You can see that Marquis backs his arguments not only with the FLO principles but the four arguments stated earlier in the paper. Marquis’s conclusion does not follow as a completely logical consequence of his two premises. Thomson’s argument is more logical then Marquis’s argument for a few reasons.
The main reason is that Thomson’s premises in both arguments (rape and contraceptive failure) provide valid evidence which allow us to see that the conclusion she gets from these is logically correct. Marquis’s FLO principle is a strong argument but at times raises questions in his premises that don’t allow me to be completely satisfied or make it logically correct. In this paper I attempted to show that Thomson’s argument on abortion being okay in some cases is logically stronger than Marquis’s Pro-Life argument on abortion.
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