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PHL 304, Exam 1 Study Guide

by: Zeba Khetani

PHL 304, Exam 1 Study Guide PHL 304

Zeba Khetani

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About this Document

These notes briefly cover chapter 1 of the book, which is all covered on Exam 1.
Contemporary Moral Problems
Dr. Charles Krecz
Study Guide
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Popular in Contemporary Moral Problems

Popular in Philosophy (introduction to bioethics)

This 4 page Study Guide was uploaded by Zeba Khetani on Wednesday September 28, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to PHL 304 at University of Texas at Austin taught by Dr. Charles Krecz in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 4 views. For similar materials see Contemporary Moral Problems in Philosophy (introduction to bioethics) at University of Texas at Austin.


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Date Created: 09/28/16
Chapter 1 PHL 304 P. 24- 34 A Defense of Abortion: Judith Jarvis Thomson 1. The right to life is the right not be killed unjustly a. Abortion in matters of rape is not unjust, thus it is okay 2. A fetus grows continuously so to draw a line at a certain point saying its only human after this point in impossible a. So we might as well just consider it a person at conception i. 10 week: brain activity, organs b. But that’s not wholly true since a beginning clump of cells is no more a human than an acorn is a tree 3. If we assume a fetus is a person at conception: a. Does the fetus’right to life outweigh mother’s right to decide what happens to her body? i. Exception: mother’s life is in danger so her right to life outweighs the fetus’ b. Analogy: You are kidnapped and attached to a violinist who needs your blood. If you unplug, they die. Do you have to stay plugged? Should you stay plugged? i. Ex: rape, where the pregnancy was forced 4. What is right to life? a. To be provided with the bare minimum one needs to survive i. What is that bare minimum? ii. Analogy: She needs Henry Fonda’s hand on her forehead to live. It would be nice of him to fly out there from the West Coast for her, but she has no right to have him fly out there for her. b. The right to not be killed by anybody i. A fetus has this right so long as it is not produced of rape or is a danger to the mother’s life ii. Abortion would only be unjust killing if the woman knowingly and voluntarily welcomed this fetus into her body 1. However, even then the unjustness is questionable due to defective condoms, etc. 5. Morally unjust vs morally indecent a. If Fonda was right across the room, he ought to place his hand on her head. It would not be morally unjust for him to refuse; however, it would be morally indecent b. Does your right to something grow when its convenience grows? When it is easier for you to obtain or to be given? c. Splendid, good, and minimally decent Samaritans i. In the case of Kitty Genovese, she was murdered while 38 people did nothing ii. Splendid Samaritan: risk his own life to save her iii. Good Samaritan: create a distraction or obtain some sort of help iiii. Minimally decent Samaritan: call the police v. The 38 who stood and watched did none of these things, which applies that they were not even minimally decent Samaritans d. No one has the moral obligation to call the police for Kitty or to let the fetus use their body for 9 months, but you ought to do more than what your moral obligation requires of you i. The law doesn’t call for most people to be even minimally decent moral obligation requires of you i. The law doesn’t call for most people to be even minimally decent Samaritans. None of the 38 can be charged with anything. ii. Why does the law then, require the mother to be a Splendid Samaritan by carrying the child for 9 months? iii. Should anyone, by law, be required to be a good Samaritan or should we just be naturally compelled to do so? 6. Special responsibility to the child does not come from the fact that the mother is biologically related to it. a. If a couple took all precautions not to have a baby and then has one, they do not have responsibility towards it. b. A good Samaritan would assume responsibility for it even after they took the precautions, but by what are we required to be good Samaritans? P. 35-44 The Wrong of Abortion: Patrick Lee and Robert P. George HUMAN EMBRYOS AND FETUSES ARE COMPLETE (THOUGH IMMATURE) HUMAN BEINGS 1. In regular sexual reproduction, the life of a being begins with complete fertilization 2. The embryo: a. Is a distinct cell from both mother and father from the start b. Has the genetic makeup of a human, making it human c. Is a complete (though immature) organism 3. The embryo is different from the sperm and ova b/c it is a whole, individual organism a. It’s also unlike skin cells, etc. b/c it has a direction of growth that is intrinsically determined NO-PERSON ARGUMENTS: THE DUALIST VERSION 1. Others argue that a human is not a person, but then that would mean that “fetus me” is not the same organism as “now me,” which we know to be false 2. The level of thinking and consciousness is not what makes “fetus me” the same as “now me,” but our similar actions do make us the same a. Physical, bodily actions b. Sensations c. Living NO-PERSON ARGUMENT: THE EVALUATIVE VERSION 1. Others argue that the embryo is both human and a person, but does not gain rights (right to life) until much later on a. Embryos have the potential to develop the capacity in order to gain rights after birth, which gives them the right to be born and develop that capacity 2. A human’s right to life is always there so long as it is a human and does not change with time, place, circumstances, etc. 3. Humans don’t reach the point of mental activity that animals do not have for at least a few months after birth a. So, if we can kill a fetus b/c it hasn’t reached that point, then we can kill an infant also 4. The only difference between an embryo and the same human at a later, more mature stage is of a degree 5. One can either be or not be a whole human being. One cannot sort of be a whole human being THE ARGUMENT THAT ABORTION IS JUSTIFIED AS NON-INTENTIONAL KILLING 1. Others argue that abortion is not killing the child, it is just refusing to let the child live off of the mother’s assistance, and is simply kicking the child out of the womb, which will most probably result in death for the child a. Bodily rights argument- mothers are not morally or lawfully required to allow the child to use their body i. Only justifies a small portion of abortions since the intention of the abortion is to kill the child or else it would be considered unsuccessful abortion is to kill the child or else it would be considered unsuccessful 2. There is a difference between not doing something to save someone (give them your kidneys) and doing something to harm someone (abortion) a. The harm may be unintended and a (foreseen) side effect, however it is still doing harm 3. Indirect or non-intentional abortions: when the abortion is a side effect of something else a. The mother has a cancerous uterus so the mother and child’s life is in danger. Abortion is permissible b/c it is not intentionally to kill the child, rather to save the mother 4. Biological relationship to the child = special responsibility to it a. This applies even when they have not volunteered or accepted this responsibility b. Responsibility to do something for the greater good of humanity translates to our responsibility to do something for the greater good of people we have relations with. This translation means we have a special responsibility to these people, like your unborn child. 5. Most of the harms done in pregnancy are not irreversible as is the death of the fetus P. 46-58 The Morality of Abortion: Margaret Olivia Little 1. Even if the fetus wasn’t a person, it would still be wrong to kill it. a. If a Da Vinci painting was destroyed, it is not bad for the painting because it has no interest but it’s bad for the community b. There is something precious about generating human life that deserves our respect i. Fetuses have a certain value 2. Why is abortion morally incorrect if it’s just a backup for failed contraception? 3. Motherhood a. Having a baby is not just about the pregnancy, but also about what comes afterwards: being a mother i. Adoption is not always an option b. Abortion is like your child knocking on your door and you shutting it 4. Responsibility a. If you brought it into existence, you have the responsibility to let it reach its potential of being a human b. If you cannot take care of the child, do not bring it into existence c. Issues about integrity Majority Opinion in Roe V Wade: Justice Harry A. Blackmun 1. Texas Penal Code: abortion, except to save the woman’s life, was a crime w/ 2-5 years’punishment 2. Blackmun: a woman’s right to an abortion comes from her right to privacy up until a certain point in the development of the fetus 3. When abortion laws were established abortions were dangerous, but they aren’t now so, do the laws still apply? a. States cannot claim they are doing all this for the mother’s health, unless it is past the first trimester 4. The state’s obligation to protect general life extends to prenatal life or not? a. Assumes life at conception 5. The constitution doesn’t explicitly give personal privacy rights, but cases have said that they do exist st th th th th a. 1 , 4 , 5 , 9 , 14 amendments b. Some state regulation is appropriate c. Unborn are not people under the 14 amendment st 6. 1 trimester: abortion is the decision of the mother and the physician 7. Past 1 trimester: abortion can be regulated by the state 7. Past 1 trimester: abortion can be regulated by the state 5


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