A Critique of “A Defense of Abortion”
What is the life of a fetus worth in your eyes? It may seem like a simple answer at first thought, but what if said fetus had a name? Or what if that fetus was your child to be? Famed moral philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson attempted to address these sorts of questions in her landmark essay, “A Defense of Abortion.” However, I believe that Thomson’s argument is misguided. Thomson uses questionable premises to assert questionable conclusions and thus, I believe that her argument is misguided. My argument follows as such:
Thomson uses questionable premises to assert her claims.
Questionable premises will often lead to faulty conclusions.
Thomson’s conclusions are faulty. This argument may be basic and simple, yet is extremely relevant in this case.
To preface this discussion, I am going to make a crucial assumption in the same manner of Thomson but in the complete opposite fashion: abortion is the act of killing a human. Even if one believes that a fetus is not a human at any stage of development in the womb, the fact that abortion is the termination of a potential human life is undeniable. In other words, even if it is not scientifically considered alive, it will be in the future and abortion would deprive it of an impending life on Earth. Furthermore, “kill” is a transitive verb defined as “to deprive of life or cause the death of,” (Merriam-Webster). This is abortion in a nutshell and even when viewed with a partisan lens, the
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In the article "A Defense of Abortion" Judith Jarvis Thomson argues that abortion is morally permissible even if the fetus is considered a person. In this paper I will give a fairly detailed description of Thomson main arguments for abortion. In particular I will take a close look at her famous "violinist" argument. Following will be objections to the argumentative story focused on the reasoning that one person's right to life outweighs another person's right to autonomy. Then appropriate responses to these objections. Concluding the paper I will argue that Thomson's "violinist" argument supporting the idea of a mother's right to autonomy outweighing a fetus' right to life does not make abortion permissible.
In Judith A. Thomson’s article, ‘A defense of abortion’ Thomson defends her view that in some cases abortion is morally permissible. She takes this stance even with the premise that fetuses upon the moment of conception are in fact regarded as persons. However one criticism of her argument would be that there is a biological relationship between mother and fetus however there is no biological relationship between you and the violinist. Having this biological relationship therefore entails special responsibility upon the mother however there is no responsibility in the case of the violinist. Thomson argues against those who are opposed to abortion with her violinist thought experiment.
In her opening statement she first starts of stating a fetus is consider to be a human being or a person from the moment of conception. They have the right to life just like any other person does. In lines 1-10 “Most opposition to abortion relies on the premise that the fetus is a human being, a person, from the moment of conception.”(“Thomson, Judith Jarvis. “A Defense of Abortion.” Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of Abortion, Oct. 1991,spot.colorado.edu/~heathwoo/Phil160,Fall02/thomson.htm.”) Thomson is drawing a line between what we consider to be a person meaning a human being or an adult, to what makes us a human being or an adult. In her first example she talks about an acorn falling from an oak tree automatically being consider to be an oak tree or to be still labeled as an acorn. In lines 10 -14“Similar things might be said about the development of an acorn into an oak trees, and it does not follow that acorns are oak trees, or that we had better say they are.”(“Thomson, Judith Jarvis. “A Defense of Abortion.” Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of
Thomson also points out a flaw in the counterargument by saying that “opponents of abortion commonly spend most of their time establishing that a fetus is a person, and hardly any time explaining the step from there to the impermissibility of abortion” (266). By including both sides of the argument, agreeing with the opposition, and pointing out a flaw in their argument, Thomson makes her argument more persuasive not only by demonstrating her vast knowledge of the issue, but also by diminishing her opponent’s
She agrees that some fetuses may have a right not to be aborted based on the relationship between the mother and the fetus, but this is only the case when the mother takes on the relationship voluntarily. So then she poses the question, what counts as voluntarily taking on a relationship? Some might say voluntarily having sex, protected or unprotected, without the intention to conceive or with some willingness to conceive, as “voluntarily taking on a relationship”. So Thomson uses two examples to argue against these notions of simply having sex being equivalent to taking on a voluntary relationship with a fetus. In the first example you decide to open a window because it’s stuffy, but now a burglar can come into your house (Thomson, 312). Because you were the one to open the window it is now your fault that the burglar has come into your house. But what if there are bars on the window now and you open the window and the burglar still makes his way into your house because there was a defect in one of the bars? Well, it’s still your responsibility because you knew there could be a slight chance that at least one of the bars would have a defect in them. But Thomson says this is absurd that you would be held responsible for the burglar simple because you wanted a “breeze”. In this example the opening of the window is having sex, the burglar is a fetus and the bars represent some form of contraceptive. People enjoy
“If X has a future like ours of great value and killing X deprives X of that future, then killing X is morally wrong.” (Marquis). So, Thomson’s sake of argument doesn’t really relate to Marquis’ since Thomson is basing her argument off whether a fetus is a person or not and is saying that it is permissible to take that life but Marquis argues on the view that the fetus has a future like ours and by taking an abortion you are depriving the fetus of a future. I find Marquis reasoning to be more valuable since depriving one from a future like everyone else’s is a very big wrong doing. A woman does have a right to her body but her decision cannot outweigh the killing off a fetus unless in a rare
Thompson claims that abortion is sometimes morally permissible in cases of self-defense like rape, incest, and failed birth control. In Thomson’s argument, she assumes that the fetus is a person from conception. She then tries to show that that abortion is morally permissible even though the fetus has a right to life. She uses the violinist analogy to show that having a right to life does not imply having the right to someone else’s body. Thompson also uses the people seed analogy to show that abortion is morally permissible when pregnancy occurs while using a form of birth control. I agree with Thompson’s view on abortion and found her examples to be very persuasive.
In her article, “The Defense of Abortion”, Judith Jarvis Thomson states an analogy involving a violinist. She first states that you are allowed to unplug yourself in the violinist scenario, second abortion after rape is analogous to the violinist scenario, therefore, you should be allowed to unplug yourself and be allowed to abort after rape (Chwang, Abortion slide 12). In this paper, I will argue that abortion is morally acceptable even if the fetus is considered a person. This paper will criticize premise two from the traditional argument against abortion string that killing innocent persons is wrong (Chwang, Abortion slide 9). Following the violinist analogy will be an objection to this analogy and my respons to them. One of the
Thomson’s argument, “A Defense on Abortion,” is a piece written to point out the issues in many arguments made against abortion. She points out specific issues in arguments made, for example, about life beginning at conception and if that truly matters as an argument against abortion. Thomson uses multiple analogies when making her points against the arguments made against abortion. These analogies are used to show that the arguments made do not really make sense in saying it is immoral to have an abortion. These analogies do not work in all cases, and sometimes they only work in very atypical cases, but still make a strong argument. There are also objections made to Thomson’s argument, which she then replies to, which makes her argument even stronger. Her replies to these arguments are very strong, saying biology does not always equate responsibility, and that reasonable precaution is an important factor in the morality of abortion. There are some major issues in her responses to these objections.
In “A Defense of Abortion” by Judith Jarvis Thompson, Thompson works to argue that even if a human fetus is considered a person, abortion is still often morally permissible. This paper will work to explain Thompson’s positions on the different accounts of the right to life, and to provide an evaluation of them and explain why they are not plausible, specifically regarding three of the analogies on-which she based her entire argument: the violinist, the coat, and the case of Kitty Genovese, as well as to explore a logical counterargument and explain why it’s stance is impermissible.
In the article 'A Defense of Abortion' Judith Jarvis Thomson argues that abortion is morally permissible even if the fetus is considered a person. In this paper I will give a fairly detailed description of Thomson main arguments for abortion. In particular I will take a close look at her famous 'violinist' argument. Following will be objections to the argumentative story focused on the reasoning that one person's right to life outweighs another person's right to autonomy. Then appropriate responses to these objections. Concluding the paper I will argue that Thomson's 'violinist' argument supporting the idea of a mother's right to autonomy outweighing a fetus' right to life does not
Thomson’s main idea is to show why Pro-Life Activists are wrong in their beliefs. She also wants to show that even if the fetus inside a women’s body had the right to life (as
Another assertion made by abortionfact.com is pregnancy is not a horrid, undignified and devastating situation. A women can continue to go to school, work and choose a life style, within reason, while pregnant. Together with medical science and the past experiences of women the depressing and perverse depiction of pregnancy can be said to be a falsehood. On the other had Thomson makes the assertion, using the same analogy as before, that a women is immobilized by the
In A Defense of Abortion, Thomson states at the very beginning “it is concluded that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception” (Thomson 449). She then goes in to comparing it to the acorn and the oak tree reference. She uses these two ideas to show that the fetus is already a part of you. It may not be a human at that point, but it is still growing in the stomach of the mother. Thomson then goes into using examples of a violinist who has fatal kidney problems, so your kidneys get hooked to his in order to save his life. Once he gets unhooked from his lifeline, he will die. This example is used to really help understand abortion. Much like the violinist, if the fetus gets unattached to its lifeline, it will die. Thomson then goes into describing the extremist view of a mother letting the fetus become a baby, even though it might very well kill her. She expresses her opinion, “The fetus, being a person, has a right to life, but as the mother is a person too, so has she a right to life” (Thomson 451). She realizes that even though the fetus has been conceived, because it is not a human, the mother should have just as much a life as the