PHIL 335 Cross Midterm 2

Thomson: The Violinist

(can be killed) you are not required to stay hooked up to the person; your right to not be plugged into him outweighs his right to live

Thomson: Cool hand on the fevered brow

(you don't have a right)
If you are dying and the only thing that can save you is a specific person's (who you don't know) cool hand on your fevered brow, you do not have a right to get that.
You don't have the right to force someone to do something for y

Thomson: chocolates

(if you don't have a right, it's not unjust) An older brother is given a box of chocolates. He eats all of the box without sharing with his younger brother; his younger brother had no right to the chocolates, therefore the older brother is not acting unju

Thomson: Burglars and people seeds

(reasonable precautions)
If you leave your window open and a burglar climbs in, the burglar has no right to be in your house. Likewise, if you install bars on your windows and a burglar still gets in, he STILL has no right to be in your house.
People seed

The Standard Argument (Thomson)

1. A fetus is a person from the moment of conception.
2. Every person has a right to life.
3. Every (human) fetus has a right to life
4. A person's right to life outweighs anyone's right to decide what happens in and to her body
5. Abortion is

Thomson's criticism of premise one of the Standard Arg

she criticizes the Demarcation Problem Argument (which is supposed to support premise one of the Standard Arg)

Demarcation Problem Argument

1. The development of a human being from conception through birth and into childhood is continuous
2. It would be arbitrary to pick any given point along this line to demarcate the shift from not being a person to being a person
3. We should say a

Thomson's criticism of the Demarcation Problem Arg

Thomson believes the Demarcation Argument is not valid and does not support the first premise of the Standard arg.

Thomson's criticism of premise four of the Standard Arg

What does a right of life amount to? It isn't a right to whatever is needed to stay; a right to life is a right not be killed unjustly

Thomson's argument

1. Killing a fetus is unjust only if it has a right to use the woman's body
2. It has no such right
3. Killing it is not unjust

Warren: 6 characteristics central to the concept of personhood

Sentience - consciousness
Reason - relatively complex
Communication - indefinitely many topics
Self awareness
Moral agency

Does one need all 6 characteristics to be considered a human?

No, but if have none, it is not a person


How do you determine the humanity of a being?

Warren: what does it mean to be human vs a person?

human in the genetic sense vs. human in the moral sense (Noonan is not keeping this straight)

Personhood Argument (Warren)

1. Anything that has never had any of these six traits is not a person
2. An early fetus has never had any of the six traits
3. An early fetus is not a person
4. Anything that is not a person does not have full equal moral status
5. Early fe

Criticism of premise one of personhood argument

it allows for the possibility that machines could be persons (i.e. a computer may eventually have these six traits)

Criticism of premise four of personhood argument

based on some moral theory (probably other than social contract theory)

Two questions (Warren)

1. What about a fetus's resemblance to a person (not physical, but according to the six criteria)?
2. What about a fetus's potential to become a person?

Proportional Rights Argument (Warren)

1. The strength of a being's rights are proportional to its resemblance to persons
2. A fetus bears no resemblance to persons conception, but gradually acquires such resemblance as it develops
3. A fetus has no rights at conception and gradually a

Clarification of Proportional Rights Arg

Not which rights but how STRONG the rights

Does a potential person have full, equal moral status? (Warren)

No, the moral rights of an actual person outweigh those of potential persons (We extend moral rights to non-persons. But non-persons cannot have full moral status- Their rights are fewer and weaker.)

Marquis' Future Like Ours (FLO) Argument

1. What makes it wrong to kill us is that it deprives us of an FLO
2. Depriving anyone (person or non-person) of an FLO is morally wrong
3. Abortion deprives a fetus of an FLO
4. Abortion is morally wrong

Future of Value / Future Like Ours

a future with good, conscious experiences:
-family life

What is Marquis' view of claiming the fetus is a person?

Marquis sidesteps the question on whether or not the fetus is a person

Contraception objection to Marquis

1. Contraception and abstention from sex result in one less FLO
2. FLO argument implies that it is always wrong to reduce the number of FLOs
3. FLO argument implies that contraception and abstention are morally wrong
4. Contraception and abstention

Marquis response to contraception objection

Marquis says his view does not imply premise two of contraception objection. He says it's wrong to deprive anything (an individual) an FLO [he doesn't say it is wrong to reduce the number of FLOs]

What does Marquis' argument imply?

implies that contraception and abstention are immoral

Marquis' response to implication

in the case of abortion, there is an objectively determinate individual harmed (its FLO is taken away); but in cases of contraception and abstention, there is no objectively determinate individual whose FLO is taken away. In the case of successful contrac

Marquis' four options

1. one individual (sperm + the egg)
2. two individuals (sperm + the egg)
3. millions of individuals (each sperm and that egg)
4. millions plus one individuals (each sperm and the egg)

Mills' criticism of Marquis' reply (also criticizing Noonan)

When did I come into existence? At conception? Or sometime after? Or sometime before?


unfertilized egg


fertilized egg



Zygote Argument (Mills)

1. An adult human being is either identical with the zygote or has developed out of it
2. If the adult developed out of it, then the adult was never a zygote and her existence did not begin at conception
3. If the adult is identical with the zygote, then

Development Argument (Mills; not as controversial)

1. If I developed out of the zygote, I was never the zygote
2. If I was never the zygote, I did not exist when it did or before it did
3. Conception occurred either before or during the existence of that zygote
4. If I developed out of the zygote, I

Identity Argument (Mills)

1. Fertilized eggs don't pop into existence at fertilization
2. If I was a zygote (fertilized egg), then I was an oocyte (unfertilized egg)
3. If I was a zygote, I existed before conception

Standard Argument Against Abortion

1. A fetus is a person from the moment of conception.
2. Every person has a right to life.
3. A fetus has a right to life.
4. A person's right to life outweighs anyone's right to decide what happens in & to her body.
5. Abortion is morally impermissible.

Thompson's definition of the right to life is...

The Right Not to be Killed Unjustly
-Is abortion killing unjustly?