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Philosophy Guide Essay

1375 words - 6 pages

ColePhilosophy: Introduction ALife, Death & MoralityEssay"Abortion is impermissible, because it deprives a being of a future like ours. Accordingly, it is morally similar to killing a healthy adult." Critically discuss this argument, drawing upon at least one of the authors we have looked at in the readings.This essay looks at the morality of abortion by using the theories of Don Marquis, Judith Thomson, Peter Singer and Mary Anne Warren to assert my opinion that the crux of the abortion debate is dictated by distinctions in development of personhood, and that as such I can conclude that abortion is morally impermissible except in extreme circumstances. I will do this through both supportive arguments provided by these authors, and counter-arguments to unsuccessful elements of alternate theories.To understand this argument we should first look at the overall moral theory that it is wrong to kill humans - this premise is agreed on by an overwhelming majority of people. This is because a human is seen to qualify as a person - a being that "can think of itself as itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places" (John Locke). Don Marquis illustrates that "what primarily makes killing wrong is … its effect on the victim" and that "the loss of one's life is one of the greatest losses one can suffer"1 because a loss of life involves the loss of all experience and enjoyments that would have constituted the victim's future. This is similar to a utilitarian argument - that killing a person a) decreases happiness/utility by the death of a person and/or b) that the killing of a person thwarts their future preferences. At this point, we can realise that this debate centres on the question of whether human foetuses are persons are not, and whether they in fact have the ability to hold preferences. Don Marquis argues that persons who are already alive value their futures, and although foetuses do not have the current ability to value their futures, this distinction is irrelevant, as the foetus will in the future, once born, value its life.1Mary Anne Warren and Peter Singer both acknowledge that human development is a gradual process, and that it is nearly impossible to mark a particular moment in time as the moment at which a foetus becomes biologically distinct in its ability to classify as a person, or even a human, but use this to reach alternate conclusions. Warren suggests that we should assign personhood at the moment of birth rather than the moment of conception, based on the theory that the establishment of social bonds begins at this point.2 I would firstly like to counter this by highlighting that many expectant mothers already form a psychological bond with their unborn child, and interact with the child in utero, thus the premise for her argument is already implausible. Singer, on the other hand, attacks the first premise we so readily agree with: that it is wrong to kill an innocent human being. He argues that, especially...

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