Abortion Debate Essay

1083 words - 5 pages

Our society deals with various controversial issues that surround life and death. Abortion has been at the forefront of these issues due to its moral implications. In present time, it has surpassed being a mere moral debate and it has become a political issue as well. The abortion debate has gained even more awareness after the 1973 Roe vs. Wade case. While it has become a political issue, abortion is an ethical issue at its core. John Stuart Mill and Immanuel Kant are two philosophers with distinct views on morality that can help further explore the abortion debate.
Anti-abortion and pro-choice organizations are the two main groups that debate this issue at length. One of the complications ...view middle of the document...

To Kant, what is most important regarding morality are not the consequences of your actions, but the motivation behind them. The three requirements for establishing one’s duty are that it must be categorical, universal, and an imperative. These requirements result in Kant’s categorical imperative.
In the case of the abortion debate through a Kantian lens, the moral duty of the pregnant woman will be studied. While the abortion debate has many arguments it touches upon, Kant is only concerned with that of duty. First and foremost, Kant would see this situation as ending the life of a potential-person. If we were to make this proposition a universal, it would mean that everyone else can be and should be terminated when they themselves were potential-persons. However, this is contradictory and inconsistent for two reasons.
First, people would not approve of ending their lives before having a chance to start it. Secondly, if this proposition were to become a universal, all life would be terminated, including the pregnant woman’s life. This would result in an inconsistence because all life would be terminated and the very search for moral duty concerning abortion would be non-existent. In addition, the pregnant woman would be willing inconsistently if she wants to terminate the life of a potential-person, but unwilling to have had her own life terminated during her potential-person phase. As a result, Kant would be against abortion because it is in the pregnant woman’s duty to carry out the pregnancy.
While Immanuel Kant is an absolutist, John Stuart Mill is a Utilitarian. Mill, unlike Kant, believes that moral duty lies in the consequence and not the motivation of the action. Mills ethical beliefs include the “Utility or the Greatest Happiness Principle holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness,” (pg 926). In other words, he defines happiness as the absence of pain and therefore the Greatest Happiness Principle is a test for morality where the...

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