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Lecture notes

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Cathal O Madagain

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PHLB09 2011 Lecture 8
A person is invested with huge creative effort-their own, their parents, their culture, nature,
Dworkin thinks:
oIt's when we deeply value the process that goes into creating something, that thing
becomes "sacred" to us-irreplaceable
It's because God invested effort (divine effort) into nature that nature is sacred (for religious folk)
It's because Da Vinci invested the effort of his creative genius into the Mona Lisa that it has
become sacred
It's because parents/grandparents/society invest into individuals
Does any effort count?
oNo. remember the great effort I undertook to demolish your house
oOr the great effort it took to establish Nazi Germany…
We don't particularly value the outcome of the huge time and effort put in
What counts is where the effort is put and what kind
oEx. Where we value the intentions of the creator-they were trying to make something
good…(for example)
oOR perhaps where the effort is neutral but great (evolution)
When sacred things are destroyed, it is tragic
Ex. The destruction of the library at Alexandria by a mob of Christians in 391AD. Or the
destruction of Buddhas of Bamiyan by the Taliban (2001). The extinction of the polar bear?
Miscarriage of 24 hour zygote that was conceived accidentally
Miscarriage of 24 hour zygote that was conceived after years of effort
oNow that return is deprived of the couple
Tragedy = when investment outweighs return
3 year old infant had parents effort, grandparents, family, state, kindergarden
IF this is what's motivating our intuitions, then we might start to get explanations:
oFor why rape is an obvious exception for many people:
The creation of the zygote is not the end of a valued process
Rape is not a valued process
oFor why threat to life of mother is an obvious exception
The mother has had a lot of effort put into it, still a lot of potential
IF this is what we're really concerned with, then we should decide the rights/wrongs of abortion
by appealing to this measure...
oSo, a late term abortion would generally be bad; why?
Note that this provides an objective measure for whether an abortion is right or wrong
A mother could think that an abortion was a good idea (ex. Anne case 5), and be wrong…
Or someone could think that abortion is a tragedy because the life of a fetus is scared; but be
wrong in some cases...
oMother's investment/accidental pregnancy
Finally, offers a way to reconcile many intuitions from different cultural backgrounds, who all
share the notion of the "sacred" and the "tragic"
So far we have been discussing the right to have an abortion
Now we turn to the possibility that there is a duty
oNot to conceive
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