PHI-2630 Lecture Notes - Lecture 13: Fetus

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3 Dec 2017
Ethics- Abortion
Abortion- “when a pregnancy is intentionally interrupted and involves (as part of the
process or aim of interruption) the intentional killing of the fetus.
Relevant questions for whether abortion is morally permissible?
1. What moral status does a fetus have?
2. Is a fetus a person?
3. Does a fetus have a right to life?
4. If so, does this override the right of a woman to her body?
5. Is there a cut-off point before which abortion is morally permissible, but not after?
6. Father’s rights?
3 theories on morality of abortion
A. Utilitarianism
B. Kant’s Theory: depends on whether the fetus is a person or not. If the fetus is a person
then abortion is not morally permissible then you are simply treating the fetus as
means to an end or as an object.
C. Virtue Ethics
Why do some people have abortions? Therapeutic reasons (pertains to the health of the
woman), eugenic reasons (pertains to the health of the fetus), humanitarian reasons,
socioeconomic reasons, personal reasons (anything that doesn’t fall under the first four).
Don Marquis: why abortion is immoral
- Marquis: “abortion is, except in possibly rare cases, seriously immoral, that it is in the
same moral category as killing an innocent adult human being”
What make it wrong?
- He considers the effects on the perpetrator and the relatives of the victim, but doesn’t
believe it is relevant.
- Says killing is wrong b/c it effects the victim because the loss of a valuable future.
2 arguments against it.
1. If a killing deprives the killed of an otherwise valuable future, then the killing is
2. An abortion (in most cases) is a killing that deprives the killed of an o0therwise
valuable future.
Conclusion- Therefore, an abortion is wrong in most cases.
1. His view seems to have the consequence that whether killing is bad depends on how
much life one has left, how good one’s life is, etc.
2. It is too vague what counts as a valuable future/ future like ours.
3. Parody argument: contraception, abstinence, deprives a possible child of the valuable
future it would otherwise had.
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