Bioethics Notes and Review.docx

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Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHL281H1
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T.J.Berry

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Abortion- Starts off with Noonan's Project: (Determination of a human being) "Criterion for humanity -> Conceived by human parents = human" Negative project: Rejecting various proposals about the source and standard of humanity (Noonan is conservative) A. The social visibility standard (Since fetuses are not socially perceived as human, no communication, they're subjective and objectively not members of society.As moral rules for behaviour are made for behavious of member's of society, they cannot be made for behaviour towards a non member) Subjective Version of SVS->A being is human just in case it is socially perceived as human (i.e., as a member of society) Objective Version of SVS->Abeing is human just in case it is capable of knowing the moral rules governing human behavior. -Noonan Rejects: If humanity depends on social recognition, individuals or whole groups may be dehumanized by being denied status in their society. -Sensibility: Standard should be objective, independent of prejudice. (Someone who follows the objective view of SVS may argue against the subjective view, as Noonan's point only hinders the subjective) B. Viability Standard:Abeing is human just in case it was conceived of human parents and is viable, i.e., can live outside its mother's body. Noonan's Objxn: i) The perfection of artificial incubation may make the fetus viable at any time. Viability depends on the extent of anatomical and fxnal development...standard would vary from race to race, and with individual circumstances. (Noonan is wrong to say that the standard may vary, because the standard is neither relative nor subjective just because there is a variation in the age at which individuals meet the standard (like a heigh requirement for riding a rollercoaster) ii) Dependence is not ended by viability (most important objxn to this approach) {Distinguish between two forms of dependence: the radical dependence of a fetus prior to viability (incapable of respiration) and the more ordinary dependence after viability} C. The Experience Standard:Abeing is human just in case it was conceived of human parents and is conscious Noonan's Objxn i)An embryo and even a "zygote is certainly alive and responding to its environment" (As responsive as a thermometer - unconsciously) ii)Adult sufferers of amnesia would not qualify as human (Unclear: depends on precise statement of standard and degree of amnesia) iii)Young children may not qualify as human (Unlikely: Depends on precise statement of standard) iv)"It's not clear why experience as such confers humanity" (Important point - a good standard will be morally salient as well as objective) Two Desiderata of an Abortion Standard (Two desirable features of a plausible abortion standard, created by non): i) The standard should be objective (i.e., independent of the beliefs/attitudes of perceivers); ii) The standard should be morally salient (i.e., prominent as a moral difference-maker) 3 Senses of Humanity (Biology) A. Genetic - all members of the species homo sapiens - The Conception criterion of humanity is based on the genetic sense of 'human'. The genetic sense of 'human' is arguably the most basic of the three senses. This would mean the presence of a complete set of human genes (23 pairs) that makes an entity human B. Normic - only specimens of the species (excluding those with abnormalities) C. Developmental - only fully developed members of the species (excluding the undeveloped) Noonan'sArgument For The Conservative View 1. Afetus is a human being. 2. Human beings have moral rights, including the rights to life and liberty. 3. Hence, a fetus has rights. 4. Afetus' right to life trumps the woman's life to liberty. 5. Hence, abortion is not morally permissible. -Problem for the Conception Criterion: Organs removed from the body, cells, strands of hair all possess a full huma genetic code. Not all entities possessing a full genetic code are human beings. ------------- Warren's Project I. Negative project: rejection of Noonan's argument for the Conservative View on grounds of equivocation II. Positive project:Argument for Liberal View on the ground that moral standing rests on personhood (Argument has gone from Conservative Humanist to Liberal Personhood) Illustrates equivocation Ais a cool cat Cats meow IgiturAmeows -Cat is used in two different senses, so the conclusion doesn't follow Noonan's equivocation: He needs to show that what is genetically human is also morally human, which he doesn't. As opposed to bio, in ethics, a MORAL sense of 'human being' is employed: human beings in the moral sense are beings with moral standing, beings who matter morally. The argument required needs to show that if a being is genetically human, then it has moral standing. Warren's Criticism of Noonan'sArgument: 1. Afetus is a homo sapiens. 2. Beings-with-moral-standing have moral rights, including the rights to life and liberty. X-3. Hence, a fetus has rights. 4. Afetus's right to life trumps the woman's right to liberty. X-5. Hence, abortion is not morally permissible. Distinction Between Human Beings and Persons -The moral community consists of all and only people, rather than all and only human beings. Warren uses the example of aliens, and how you'd have to determine whether or not they are people with moral standing. Ahuman being is, for Warren, a biological being, a member of the human species. Aperson is, for Warren, a moral being, a member of the "moral community." Plausible Components of Personhood i. Consciousness ii. Reasoning iii. Self-motivated activity iv. Flexible communication skills v. Possession of self-concept (Characteristics amount to self-consciousness) Any being that satisfies none of (i-v) is certainly not a person. Demonstrate a fetus is not a person and you can prove abortion is legal. Warren'sArgument for the Liberal View 1. Only Member's of the moral community have rights. 2. Only persons are members of the moral community. 3. Self-consciousness is necessary for personhood. 4. Fetuses are not self-conscious. 5. Hence, fetuses are not persons, not members of the moral community, and not rightsbearers. 3 Issues for Warren 1. Resemblance: Fetuses closely resemble adult human beings. (Fetuses, especially late pregnancy, strongly resemble adult humans, shouldn't moral status be extended to them via semblance? Warren says have physical characteristics/biological characteristics simply aren't relevant attributes to personhood) {What about our emotional responses? Observation on koala bears and pigs: we have differential emotional and emphathic responses to beings that resemble us, does that mean nothing? Yes. Fetus has less of a right to life than a baby fish, so if it has the rtl, then so should the baby fish} 2. Potentiality: Fetuses are potential persons. (Warren believes that even if a potential person does have a prima facie rtl, that right could not possibly outweigh the right of a woman to obtain an abortion, since the right's of any actual person invariably outweigh those of a potential person.) {How is it that wanton destruction could be wrong since it will place the rights of an actual person against the "rights" of a potential one?} 3. Infanticide: Infants are not persons either. (Warren's explanation: a) Neonates are "so very close to being person." [Aren't fetuses?] b) Infanticide deprives adoptive parents of possible adoptees. [Doesn't abortion?] a) and b)Apply to a neonate but not a fetus, because a neonate does not pose a threat to anyone's life and health as a fetus does to the pregnant woman's life and health. [What sort of threat?]) Two view on infanticide: It is prima facie morally impermissible but this restriction can be overridden in special circumstances. It is prima facie morally permissible but this permission can be overridden in special circumstance. Thomson's Defense ofAbortion Negative project: To show that the inference from a fetus' having the rtl to the impermissibility of abortion is not straightforward. Positive project: to support a Moderate View onAbortion by examining the limits of our obligations to assist others. Thomson gifts Noonan the claim that fetuses have rights She just doesn't believe that premise 4 can bridge 3 to the conclusion. Thomson's Revision of Noonan'sArgument 1. Human beings have rights, including the rights to life and liberty. 2. Afetus is a human being. 3. Hence, a fetus has rights. 4.1 The right to life entails the right to life support. 4.2 Abortion removes a fetus' life support. 5. Hence, abortion violates the fetus's right to life and is morally impermissible. Comes up with the case of the famous violinist case. This case shows the flaw in point 4.1. Thomson's Positive Project A. Ethics - abortion is often permissible 1. Rights - the fetus' having the right to life does not make abortion impermissible 2. Commonsense Morality - other moral concerns do not make abortion impermissible. B. Law - legal restrictions inconsistently require good samaritanism of pregnant women A. Ethics 1. Rights 2 Views on RTL A. Broad - "having a rtl includes having a right to be given at least the bare minimum one needs for continued life" B. Strict - the rtl "does not include the right to be given anything, but amounts to, and only to, the right not to be killed by anybody" *Henry Fonda case* Thomson views the rtl strictly, making abortion (the removal of life support) permissible. 2. Commonsense Morality For Thomson, "commonsense morality" is composed of all ethical concerns that are not captured in the most plausible system of moral rights. Projected conclusion: moral concerns besides rights do not (typically) make abortion morally impermissible. Rights v Commonsense Morality *Think of the two scenarios dealing with the boy, his brother, and chocolates. In 1 scenario, the box is given to the brothers jointly, in another, only the older brother is given the box. In the second scenario, would it be wrong of the older brother to deny his younger chocolate? No, he has no right to the cocoa, but the elder "ought" to share. If he doesn't, he's just stingy. (Oughts do not entail the presence of a right, some of them arise from commonsense moraliy)* Person ought to keep the fetus alive, but they aren't morally required to, since it's at the expense of their health, interests, and concerns. Commonsense morality does forbid some abortions, but only when the burden of carrying through is light. Thomson's Conclusion in Ethics Both commonsense morality and rights are consistent with the moral permissibility of abortion in some cases. Thomson may find some adversaries in the liberal camp as she does not believe abortion is ALWAYS permissible, and she does not argue for the security of the unborn child's death. Warren's complaint against Thomson...only works in the case for rape, as it is the only one analogous to the violinist case. In any "normal" unwanted pregnancy, you can't say that the woman isn't partially at fault for her predicament. Thomson just wants to reiterate that not every abortion is an "unjust killing". Thomson's argument may be a "godsend" for conservatives, but then they must prove that the analogy only works in comparison with rapes. *Alternative is the ToddAkin theory that no pregnancy results from rape, because if it was a legitimate rape, the woman's body has ways of terminating the pregnancy.* B. Law The murder of Kitty Genovese Upshot: Good samaritanism is not legally required of anyone except pregnant women. Thomson's conclusion in Law: We ought to be consistent: abortion needs to be legal or illegal -------------(Next Lec) Thomson'sArgument 1. All ethical concerns are captured either by rights theory or commonsense morality. 2. Rights theory does not require life-preserving Good Samaritanism because the right to life is strict rather than broad, i.e., a right only not to be killed (unjustly) rather than a right to what one needs for bare preservation. 3. Commonsense morality requires life-preserving action only when the burden of engaging in such action is light: in Thomson's terms, it requires only Minimally Decent Samaritanism, not Good Samaritanism. 4. Hence, abortion is not ethically prohibited except when the burden of preserving the fetus is light. 3 Versions of Conservative View: 1. Extreme Conservatism:Abortion is never morally permissible. 2. Normal Conservatism:Abortion is morally permissible only if the woman's life is endangered. 3. Compassionate Conservatism:Abortion is morally permissible only if the woman's lifeis endangered or the pregnancy is due to rape. General Rights: Do not arise out of any special relationship or transaction between men. They aren't rights which are peculiar to those who have them but are rights which all men capable of choice have in the absence of those special conditions which give rise to special rights. Special Rights:Arise out of relationships or transactions between human persons. General rights arise from the sort of thing one is (e.g., a human person capable of choice). Noonan'sArgument Revisited 1. Human beings have moral rights, including the general rights to life and liberty. 2. Afetus is a human being. 3. Hence, a fetus has a general right to life. 4. Afetus' general right to life trumps the woman's general right to liberty. 5. Hence, abortion is not morally permissible. Thomson's Revision of Noonan'sArgument 1. Human beings have rights, including general rights to life and liberty. 2. Afetus is a human being. 3. Hence, a fetus has a general right to life. 4.1 The general right to life entails the right to life support. 4.2 Abortion removes a fetus' life support. 5. Hence, abortion violates the fetus' general right to life and is morally impermissible. Thomson rejects premise 4.1. If Compassionate Conservatives wish to use Thomson's argument to permit abortions of pregnancies 4.1, they too reject 4.1, but then they must reformulate the argument against abortion. The CC's Reformulate Noonan 1. Human beings have rights, including the general rights to life and liberty and, in appropriate circumstances, special rights. 2. Afetus is a human being. 3*. Hence, a fetus has general rights and in, appropriate circumstances, special rights. 4.1* When a woman voluntarily has intercourse knowing that a fetus may come to exist as a result, her action gives any resultant fetus a special right to life support. 4.2 Abortion removes a fetus' life support. 5. Hence, abortion violates the fetus's special right to life and is morally impermissible. Comp. Conserv. support of this 4.1 -Woman's action constitutes tacit consent that the fetus may use her body for life support - Woman's action makes her responsible for the fetus and so establishes its right. Five Objections to Thomson A. Four objxns granting Thomson's intuition about the Violinist Case 1. Two objxns concerning the origin of pregnancy a. The tacit consent objxn b. The responsibility objxn 2. Two objxns concerning the ending of a pregnancy a. The killing versus letting die objxn b. The intending versus foreseeing objxn B. One objxn denying Thomson's intuition about the Violinist Case: The duty to save the violinist objxn ------------ Boonin defends the Good Samaritanism policy, while disregarding Thomson's support Tacit Consent Two parts: 1. Voluntarily doing the action is sufficient for tacit consent. 2. What's is being consented is the life support of the possible fetus. Difference between a) Person's voluntarily bringing about a certain state of affairs b) a person's voluntarily doing an action foreseeing that it may lead to a certain state of affairs Common variables: voluntariness, causality, and foreseeability. Enough for tacit consent? No. Think about the two people leaving money at a restaurant. One leaves $5, other leaves entire money clip ($100). Think about social convention! Boonin believes that "It is prima facie morally obligatory for us to adhere to our tacit agreements." At most, the objection establishes a prima facie requirement to provide life support. (Plausibly overridden in some cases for the preservation of a woman's mental health) Responsiubility Premise: When one voluntarily acts in such a way that another person is foreseeably caused to need assistance, one is morally obligated to provide that person with the assistance needed. Boonin's two types of responsibility 1. You are responsible for the fact that the other person now exists. (If you had not done the act, then the other would not now exist and therefore would not need your assistance to survive.) 2. You are responsible for the fact that, given that the other person now exists, the other stands in need of your assistance. (If you had not done the act, then he would now exist, but would not need your assistance to survive.) Imperfect drug case with the violinist. One would say you're morally obligated to assist the violinist in the Perfect Drug Case, but not in the Imperfect Drug Case. Boonin's Principle: responsibility(2) generates a moral obligation to assist, but responsibility(1) does not. In the violinist case, you bear neither sort of responsibility for the violinist. The pregnant woman (unlike, say, Dr. Frankenstein) bears only responsibility(1) for the fetus. In the Speeding Driver Case, you bear responsibility(2) and so are obliged to assist. Thomson'sArgument 1. All ethical concerns are captured either by rights theory of commonsense morality. 2. Rights theory does not require life-preserving Good Samaritanism because the right to life is strict rather than broad, i.e., a right only not be killed (unjustly) rather than a right to what needs for bare preservation. 3. Commonsense morality requires life-preserving action onlyl when the burden of engaging in such action is light: in Thomson's terms, it requires only Minimally Decent Samaritanism, not Good Samaritanism. 4. Hence, abortion is not ethically prohibited except when the burden of preserving the fetus is light. The distinction between killing and letting die: -letting die is morally permissible but killing is not. In abortion, the fetus is killed; in the Violinist Case, the violinist is allowed to die. So abortion is morally impermissible but detaching from the violinist is not. Objections: Strict rtl, only people can't unjustly kill, but they can let die. Objector: It allows unplugging from the violinist but not killing the fetus. Boonin responds by saying: Hysterectomy and Hysterotomy and Mifepristone detach the fetus...meaning they're letting die and are morally permissible abortive procedures. Intending v. Foreseeing: Bomber scenarios. In the violinist case, the bad effect is merely foreseen, in abortion it's intended. Boonin's Response: Distinction between sufficient and insufficient intentions: Sufficient: Just in case it would be enough in itself to motivate a person to act. Insufficient: Just in case it alone would not be enough to motivate a person to act Two more bomber scenarios: Bomber 3 will only do it if both are accomplished (munitions and death of athletes) Bomber 4 will only carry out the mission if 1/2 will be accomplished. Upshot of Boonin's Response: > The objector may be correct that a woman having an abortio
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