Bioethics: Purdy, Harris, Tooley, King

  1. First, briefly explain the significance of the two passages (A & B). That is, in your own words explain what important idea the author is describing in each passage. Remember that there are two passages per question. Make your explanations concise. Do not pack in extra, unnecessary information that is irrelevant to the passage.
  2. Then, explain how these passages go together, what their conceptual relationship seems to be. In other words, explain whether they seem to reinforce/support one another, or, rather, if they seem to conflict/disagree with one another in some way.
Prompt #1:
Prompt #2:
Prompt #3:
The 2 following listed below are just examples in case you need to see what it is supposed to look like.

A. John Finnis, “Abortion and Health Care Ethics,” p. 18: “Rather as you or I have the capacity to speak Tibetan or Icelandic, though we lack the ability to do so, so even the youngest human embryo already has the biological capacity appropriate to supporting specifically human operations such as self-consciousness, rationality and choice (given only time and metabolic transformation of air, water and other sustenance).”
B. Don Marquis, “Why Abortion is Immoral,” p. 56: “The claim that the primary wrong-making feature of killing is the loss to the victim of the value of its future accounts for the wrongness of killing young children and infants directly.”
A: The human zygote, embryo, and fetus possess the active potential to become human beings who eventually possess the capacities that provide a right to life (i.e., the capacities of personhood). Based on this active potential the human individual must be considered a person at all stages of development.
B: Killing is wrong because it deprives an individual of a future life that is both subjectively and objectively valuable. A human fetus will have such a future, and so to kill a fetus would be wrong for that reason.
C: These two passages agree with one another as they both entail abortion is wrong since it either violates the fetus’s right to life or deprives the fetus of its future of value.
A. John Finnis, “Abortion and Health Care Ethics,” p. 22: “if a procedure such as the administration of the ‘post-coital pill’ is undertaken for the purpose only of preventing conception after rape but involves some risk of causing abortion as a side-effect (because it is not known at what stage of her cycle the woman is), there can be no universal judgement that the adoption of such a procedure is unjust to the unborn.”
B. Judith Jarvis Thomson, “A Defense of Abortion,” 47: “Except in such cases as the unborn person has a right to demand it – and we were leaving open the possibility there may be such cases – nobody is morally required to make large sacrifices, of health, of all other interests and concerns, or all other duties and commitments, for nine years, or even for nine months, in order to keep another person alive.”
A: According to Finnis even in the case of rape the fetus (unborn human) has a right to life. However, taking a post-coital pill (Plan B pill) in this case is permissible since there can be no certainty that conception has occurred (and therefore no certainty that one is actually aborting a fetus), and the woman has the right to defend herself to prevent conception from occurring.
B: Thomson argues that abortion is permissible in certain cases based on the fact that no human being is normally required to fulfill extraordinary moral demands for other people (such as donating a kidney to a stranger). There may be cases where a pregnancy requires certain sacrifices (social and health-wise), and in that case abortion would be permissible
C: Finnis and Thomson are able to agree that measures to prevent pregnancy are permissible in situations such as rape, though for somewhat different reasons.
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