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Lecture notes 1-5

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Cathal O Madagain

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Pope John Paul II:
The point of view the Pope holds is that life is sacred and that it should never be
taken. The pope champions the idea that at the point of conception the embryo is a
human life and has a soul as stated by the bible. The mere possibility that the fetus
is human makes abortion impermissible. An abortion is an attack on an innocent life
and can be seen as an attack on humanity.
Judith Thomson:
Argues with the assumption that the fetus is a human and that it’s okay to kill
someone in certain situation. She subscribes to the property model which grants
rights to people based on original right and permission that has been granted.
People only have the right NOT TO BE KILLED UNJUSTLY, nothing else. People have a
right to do what they wish with their property even if someone dies. Murder can
only be committed if it was intentional and does not violate someone’s rights. She
believes Duty ends with property rights and decency is anything above and beyond
and everyone should do what a minimally decent person does.
He argues that the faith of the fetus should also be determined by the father. He
feels for a man to have a right over the baby he must have a morally legit interest
in the baby and his contribution must have been made in a legit way. Even though
no explicit contracts are made Harris believes in a person right in practicing
autonomy. Men’s rights are being breached if they are deceived, or women don’t
fulfill their “contract” with them.
Hursthouse is a virtue ethicist. This means that she holds the view that the right
action is the one that is the most virtuous. The virtues are traits that humans exhibit
such as courage, generosity, justice, self-control, and so on. These are contrasted
with corresponding 'vices' such as cowardice or recklessness, meanness, injustice,
intemperance etc. Acting virtuously is acting in a way that promotes human
flourishing, or a good life, which Aristotle called 'eudaimonia'. Ignores right based
approach, and each decision is objective and context dependent.
Argues that the issue of abortion is a special case and treated as such, cannot be
explained with the rights model. Discusses three different value systems;
1. Subjective Vs Objective values
2. Instrumental value Vs Final Value
3. Incremental (Fungible) Vs Invioble value
Objects with intrinsic value have final value and objective, these are things we value
but wouldn’t be devastated if we lost. Scared things have all three; objective, final
and Invioble value. We are devastated at their loss. An object is scared when we
value the process that goes into creating it and a lot of effort was put in. A tragic
event occurs when the investment outweighs the return in a scared object that has
been destroyed.
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