Thursday, November 01, 2007

A Philosophical Approach to Abortion

We've wound up our consideration of philosophical arguments about the ethics of abortion. We're now approaching the sunlit land of euthanasia. Great.

The arguments for the morality of abortion have one common element. They deny that all human beings are persons (rights holders). (Thomson may be an exception, but her position isn't all that popular in pro-abortion circles). Warren uses analogical arguments (thought experiments) to sketch out her particular view of how we can decide who is human and who isn't. Keep in mind that she is a Contractarian, and believes that rights are something we agree to create. She denies, effectively, the truth of: "All Men are Created Equal". In this sense, she is sketching out a possible method for deciding which human beings we can agree are persons [like us], and which are not.

So let's take one of Professor Peter Kreeft's versions (while speaking at Georgetown University, 10/19/06) of the anti-abortion argument, so we can see what it looks like:

1. The life of each individual member of a species, at least mammalians, begins at conception [fertilization].

2. All humans have the right to life because they're all human persons. [We all share human nature, therefore, we all, all things being equal, share the same universal human rights.]

3. The law must protect the most basic human rights of all it's citizens.


4. Therefore, the law should forbid the direct killing of pre-born humans [zygotic, embryonic, and foetal humans] the same as it protects the life of humans after birth [infant. child, adolescent, adult, aged, and dying humans].

Early pro-abortion approaches tried to deny the first premise. But that is uncontroversially true as a scientific fact. The main focus is now on denying the second premise. The rub is that there is no justification for killing humans before birth that doesn't apply equally to infants (and others) after birth. The grisly result of stubbornly defending the intuition that abortions must be justified is the reality that pro-abortion thinkers, to be be consistent, must, with some greater or lesser enthusiasm, embrace infanticide and euthanasia.

And cobbling together a denial of the [moral] humanity of the unborn while trying to stop sex-selection abortions is a feat worthy of a philosophical Rube Goldberg. Maybe some foetuses are more equal than others?

No comments: