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PHLA11H3 Lecture Notes - Samaritans, Abortion Debate, Fetus

Course Code
Kelin Emmett

of 2
Ethics Session 15
abortion debate
often surrounds the question, “When is the fetus a person?”
Thomson does not think that the conclusion follows
it’s a bad argument
skeptical that it’s possible to draw the line at when a fetus is a person
argues that even if the fetus is a person, abortion can still be permissible
the thought is that, “if the fetus is a person, then abortion is impermissible”
points out limitations of the argument for why
if the “fetus is a person, then abortion is impermissible”
mother has a right to life
does not follow that abortion is impermissible if the mother’s life is at risk
the mother is a person and persons have the right to self-defense
if the fetus is threatening the life of the mother
mother has a right to defend herself
(regardless of the fact that the fetus is morally innocent)
third-party intervention is not permissible
impartiality does not allow for a third-party to interfere
third-party cannot choose who is allowed to live
only the mother may do the abortion herself
Thomson argues that third-party intervention is permissible
because it’s the mother’s body,
note that other things are not equal, contrary to the claim
Thomson argues for abortion even in the case of when a mother’s life is not in danger
through the usage of a thought experiment
concludes that one is not obligated
“it’d be good, but not obligated.”
points out that the fetus does not have a right to life (or little right to life)
if it is the product of a rape
because children and adults have rights
(because anti-abortionists give exception to rape cases)
Thomson argues that the concept, “right to life” is misunderstood
right to life is not a right to the use of another person’s body
even if the baby needs the mother’s body to survive
did the pregnant woman give the fetus the right to use her body
in the case of rape, no
therefore, abortion is permissible
in the case of voluntary sex
abortion is permissible because the woman is not responsible for the fetus
whether or not precautions were taken, abortion is permissible
too strong to say that abortion would not be permissible if precautions were not taken
adequate precautions would have to be 100% foolproof
note that in the arguments, we grant that the fetus is a person
Thomson does not believe that the fetus is a person
Thomson’s conclusion
abortion is morally permissible in many cases
even if the fetus is a person and has a right to life
one must not fall below Minimally Decent Samaritanism
not a blanket conclusion
there is no 100% right or wrong
depends on the situation
relationship between Thomson and Marquis’ arguments
Thomson seems to reply to Marquis
fetus’ future is valuable to it
fetus does not have a right to what it needs to get its future
the mother’s body
abortion is not unjust denial of the fetus’ future