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The violinist[ edit ] In "A Defense of Abortion", Thomson grants for the sake of argument that the fetus has a right to lifebut defends the permissibility of abortion by appeal to a thought experiment: You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist.
A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help.
They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. Thus, by choosing to terminate her pregnancy, Thomson concludes that a pregnant woman does not normally violate the fetus's right to life, but merely withdraws its use of her own body, which usually causes the fetus to die.
If the doctor refuses, then the woman is denied her right. Thomson presents the hypothetical example of the 'expanding child': Suppose you find yourself trapped in a tiny house with a growing child. However, this does not mean that the person being crushed cannot act in self-defense and attack the child to save his or her own life.
To liken this to pregnancy, the mother can be thought to be the house, the fetus the growing-child. But, Thomson says, the person threatened can intervene, by which justification a mother can rightfully abort.
For what we have to keep in mind is that the mother and the unborn child are not like two tenants in a small house, which has, by unfortunate mistake, been rented to both: The fact that she does adds to the offensiveness of deducing that the mother can do nothing from the supposition that third parties can do nothing.
But it does more than this: Thomson says that we are not personally obligated to help the mother but this does not rule out the possibility that someone else may act. As Thomson reminds, the house belongs to the mother; similarly, the body which holds a fetus also belongs to the mother.
Again, suppose it were like this: As can happen, however, and on very, very rare occasions does happen, one of the screens is defective; and a seed drifts in and takes root.
The woman does not want a people-seed to root itself in her house, and so she even takes the measure to protect herself with the best mesh screens, and then voluntarily opens the windows.
However, in the event that one people-seed finds its way through her window screens, unwelcome as it may be, does the simple fact that the woman knowingly risked such an occurrence when opening her window deny her the ability to rid her house of the intruder?
Thomson notes that some may argue the affirmative to this question, claiming that " Thomson concludes that although there may be times when the fetus does have a right to the mother's body, certainly in most cases the fetus does not have a right to the mother's body.
This analogy raises the issue of whether all abortions are unjust killing. She gives as an example a hypothetical woman who seeks a late-term abortion "just to avoid the nuisance of postponing a trip abroad" and declares this to be "positively indecent". Thomson also explicitly rejects the claim that pregnant women have a right to kill their offspring.
She argues for the right of the mother to stop being pregnant, even if this results in the death of the offspring, but not for the right to ensure that the offspring is dead. If, for example, a late-term abortion accidentally results in the birth of a living baby, then Thomson would conclude that the mother has no right to kill the baby.
Criticism[ edit ] Critics of Thomson's argument generally grant the permissibility of unplugging the violinist, but seek to block the inference that abortion is permissible by arguing that there are morally relevant differences between the violinist scenario and typical cases of abortion.
One notable exception to this general agreement is Peter Singerwho says that, despite our intuitions, a utilitarian calculus implies that one is morally obliged to stay connected to the violinist. In the violinist scenario, the woman was kidnapped: But in typical cases of abortion, the pregnant woman had intercourse voluntarily, and thus has either tacitly consented to allow the fetus to use her body the tacit consent objection or else has a duty to sustain the fetus because the woman herself caused the fetus to stand in need of her body the responsibility objection.
Thomson's defenders also point to her 'people-seeds' argument as a strong analogy to typical cases of abortion.
Thomson's article, by positing a moral justification for abortion even if one grants a fetal right to life, opened up a new avenue in the philosophical debate about the ethics of abortion. Critics of her view have formulated many objections to her argument, and defenders have responded in kind in a back and forth that continues in philosophy journals even now.Ah, but super-human AI is not the only way Moloch can bring our demise.
How many such dangers can your global monarch identify in time? EMs, nanotechnology, memetic contamination, and all the other unknown ways we’re running to the bottom.
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