Class Note for PHIL 164 at UMass(8)
Class Note for PHIL 164 at UMass(8)
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by an elite notetaker on Friday February 6, 2015. The Class Notes belongs to a course at University of Massachusetts taught by a professor in Fall. Since its upload, it has received 11 views.
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Date Created: 02/06/15
Medical Ethics 022409 Phil 1643 Spring 09 l Instructor Kristoffer Ahlstrom leayrtmpyzarumamedu l httppeopleumassedukahlstro164 SOME PROBLEMS AND SIMILARITIES According to Marquis there are certain structural similarities between the pro7choice and pro7life position Prolife Prochoice A fetus is a human life Hence it s wrong to kill it A fetus is not a person Hence it s not wrong to kill it 7 Fin Probem A human cancer cell7culture is both living 7 Fin Probem Infants and severely retarded individuals and has the DNA required to qualify as human life in the do not qualify as persons ifunderstood in terms of ra7 biological sense But is it morally wrong to end the exis7 tionality and self7awareness But is it morally permissible tence ofa human cancer cell7culture to kill them 7 SemmiProbem How do we get from the bio032ml fact 7 SemmiProkem How do we get from the ngaogz39m fact that the fetus is a human life to the mom fact that it s that the fetus isn t a person to the mom fact that it s not wrong to kill it wrong to kill it Here s one attempt to answer the second problem for the pro7choice position clue to Joel Feinberg The characteristics that confer commonsense personhood are traits that make sense out of rights and duties It is because people are conscious have a sense of their personal identities have plans goals and projects ex7 perience emotions are liable to pains anxieties and frustrations can reason and bargain and so on 7 it is because of these attributes that people have values and interests desires and expectations of their own including a state in their own futures and a personal well7being of a sort we cannot ascribe to unconscious or nonrational beings Only because of their sense of self their life plans their value hierarchies and their stakes in their own futures can they be ascribed fundamental rights Notice however what Feinberg is doing here He starts out by talking about rights and duties but ends up talking only about rights This is a problem and for the following reasons a It seems reasonable to assume that having duliei requires a certain level of conceptual sophistication For ex7 ample for me to have a duty to repay my debts to you it probably has to be the case that I have a concept of money oflending and borrowing of me and you and our independent identities etc Indeed this is exactly why I can t lend money to a stoneiand why it could never owe me anything 5 However the same does not seem to be true of 723715 Indeed this brings us back to the first problem above Infants and severely retarded individuals may have rightsisuch as a right not to be killedieven if they lack a whole host of concepts as well as perhaps certain levels of self7awareness In other words it seems that the fancy psychological characteristics that Feinberg talks about may be required for dulz39ex but not for ghts As such his point does not say anything about under what conditions we may or may not have a right not to be killed THE FUTURE7LIKE7OURS ACCOUNT According to Marquis the problem with both positions is that neither has gotten to the are ofwhat makes it wrong to kill someone So what makes it wrong to take someone s life Here are a couple of bad suggestions 1 It brutalizes the one killed Probem The reason the act is brutal is that it is immoral Otherwise it would be say brave or merciful In other words brutalization does not explain why killing is immoral 2 It amounts to a great loss for others due to the absence of the one killed Probem If this were why it s wrong to kill someone then how do we explain that it s wrong to kill a hermit Here Marquis claims is a better suggestion The FutureLikeOurs Account What primarily makes killing wrong is neither its effect on the murderer nor on the victim s friends and relatives but its effect on the victim The loss of one s life is one of the greatest losses one can suffer The loss of one s life deprives one of all the experiences activities projects and enjoyments that would otherwise have constituted one s future This theory has a couple of virtues 7 Since what matters is a futureinot a human futureithe theory does no imply that it s morally permissible to kill non7human beings 7 Since it s the palm of the future that makes it wrong to kill someone the theory does no collapse into a sanctity of life ethic 7 Since infants retarded individuals and hermits all have futures that may be valuable the theory explains why it s wrong to kill them Most importantly however the theory has the following implication 7 Since a fetus has a future it is wrong to kill a fetus to the extent that this future is valuable ALTERNATIVE ACCOUNTS One way to try to discredit this conclusion is to find an allemalive account of killing that a does an equally good job at explaining why we think it s wrong to kill others without 5 implying that it s wrong to kill a fetus 1 The Desire Account Killing is wrong in so far as it interferes with a desire to live on part of the victim Probem This fails to explain why it is wrong to kill people that are sleeping unconscious or suicidal 2 The Discontinuation Account Killing is wrong in so far as it discontinues a positive experience ofliving Probem This account implies that an intolerable immediate past can make it right to kill someone even if the future carries many positive experiences At the same time the future7like7ours account explains not only a why it s wrong to kill people that are sleeping un7 conscious or suicidal but also 5 why an intolerable immediate past does not justify killing in either case we are de7 priving someone of a future that may be valuable CONTRACEPTION Does Marquis account imply that it s wrong to use contraception Consider the following argument 1 It is morally wrong to deprive someone of apolenlia future 2 Using contraception is to deprive someone of a potential future 3 Hence using contraception is morally wrong Marquis is not happy with this argument however First of all at the time of contraception there is no one potential future but milions ofpotential futures in the form ofmillion possible combinations of thousands of sperms and one egg Moreover he takes it that what makes killing wrong is not depriving someone of a potential future but depriving someone of an mumfuture And at the time of conception there simply is no such thing as an actual future yet
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