PHLB09 2011 Lecture 4
•Suppose two people are in a lifeboat with no food. If one dies soon enough, the
other can eat him. If he stays alive, they'll both die. Can one kill the other? -
oNot straightforwardly true that you can kill him
•Problem: our intuitions about abortion tell us
oAbortion for rape is OK
oAbortion where fetus threatens life of mother is OK
oWhy do we have conflicting intuitions?
oBecause pregnancy involves property
oThe mother has prior right to the property which the fetus didn't have
oArtist and kidney analogy for rape
•Health threat analogy:
oIf you invite someone into your house and they start to grow
uncontrollable, do they have the right to stay?
oNote, the question here is whether or not this person has a right to
oThe invitation is conditional upon your guess that they wouldn't turn
around and try to kill you when you got there
oIf you knew about this before hand, then you'd have every right to
throw them out
oWe wouldn't give this right to the ordinary person, so why give it to
the fetus? (Thomson)
•Thomson thinks no!
oThe fetus doesn't have the right to your property unless you give that
•...so what about the right to life?
oWe don't have a right to be kept alive no matter what it takes
•Or we could force people to donate kidneys...
•We don't have a right not to be killed under any circumstances
•...if saving my child's live involves doing something that accidentally kills you,
then too bad
oSay there are two people in a car wreck, if you pull both out the car
will explode, only one can go out. One is your 4 year old daughter. Of course,
you'll pull your own daughter out, knowing that you'll kill the other person
because your action directly results in their death. You ARE killing them,
but you're not necessarily breaching their rights
•...we only have a right not to be killed unjustly
oEven if you extend the full set of rights to the fetus, the question is
whether you're actually breaching these rights
oIs it justified to kill a fetus under these circumstances, because a
human can be killed under set circumstances justly
•Intentional versus Unintentional Killing
oIf I deny you the use of my kidneys, that action might kill you