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PHL283 Mar 17 2011

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Jonathan Peterson

PHL283 March 17 th - research in the developing world: 3 problems o 1. double standard o 2. coercion  the offer  background conditions- the choices and options they have available to them – desperation? o 3. justice – availability and compensation  to participate  to communities • in the AZT trials – the studies were done for the benefit of the developed world - exploitation o harmful  mutually advantageous o consensual  Guatemala – non consensual  the people being forcefully infected – their consent wasn’t obtained or they weren’t in the position to be giving consent (mental patients) The Walrus Wayne Sumner - history of abortion laws - debate about abortion was different at the time – but classic argument nonetheless - should we think of unborn fetuses as persons – should they have moral rights? Are they alive? - see it as 2 sides o 1. abortion is immoral: fetuses have a right to life o 2. fetuses do not have the right to life – don’t have that moral status – nothing wrong with abortion An argument that abortion is morally permissible: 1. a fetus is a person from the moment of conception 2. every person has a right to life 3. the fetus has a right to life 4. a person’s right to life outweighs a woman’s rightto decide what happens to her body 5. the fetus may not be killed Thompson’s parallel argument: 1. the unconscious violinist is a person - you find yourself waking up hooked up to another person on a bed - happens to be a very famous and very talented violinist who is suffering from a strange and unusual kidney failure and he needs to be hooked up to someone with a specific blood - you happen tot be the only person in the world with that kind of blood so that he can survive - he needs to draw on your blood for 9 months and then he will be completely cured, and you can go about your life - if you unhook yourself from him, he will surely die - so what are your obligations? o Thompson points out that you can construct a parallel argument to the above 2. every person has a right to life 3. the violinist has a right to life - to unhook yourself is violating his right to life - 4. you have the right to decide what happens to you and your body 5. a person’s right to life outweighs the right to decide what happens in and to one’s body 6. the violinist may not be unplugged - is it permissible for you to unplug yourself? - if yes, then something is wrong with the argument - Thompson is banking on the argument that it is OKAY to unhook yourself - conclusion of the violinist argument is false – it is acceptable to unhook yourself o one of the premises must be false - the violinist and the abortion argument are parallel – if there is something wrong with the violinist argument then there must be something wrong with the abortion argument o even if you grant that the fetus has a right to life, it doesn’t follow that it is wrong to have an abortion o it can still follow that it is permissible to have an abortion o even if it is permissible that the violinist has a right to life, it can still be okay to unhook yourself - BUT; the strength of the argument depends on them being parallel o the thing that is crucial in the violinist case is that you were kidnapped and got hooked up – you had no choice in the matter – you bear no responsibility for it o the relationship between the normal case of the woman an
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