Philo 171
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 Questions for the 1st Writing Assignment

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PostSubject: Question #2   Thu Nov 27, 2008 12:07 am

The articles of Don Marquiz and Susan Sherwin entitled ‘Why Abortion Is Immoral’ and
‘Feminist Analyses of Women and Abortion’, respectively, have presented viable arguments concerning the issue of abortion. The two articles offered opposing views on the issue, in which, Don Marquiz examined the beliefs of a pro-choicer and an anti-abortionist, and Susan Sherwin on the other hand studied the reasoning of a feminist and a non-feminist. The careful analyses made by these writers have aided me personally, in clearing up my mind and arriving at my own stand on the topic of abortion. I agree with Don Marquiz’s argument that abortions, with few exceptions, are immoral and morally impermissible. A fetus has a moral status or moral standing just like an adult human being. Questions regarding the abstract concept of a fetus based on biological and psychological perspectives should not be the focus of the issue. These queries on the definition of human life, human being and other key concepts that cover the fetus as an entity were later found out to be irrelevant on the central issue. As an end result, a more complex problem arises with no clear solutions. Abortion causes death to the fetus. What primarily makes it wrong is the effect of killing on the victim itself, not on the murderer or on the victim’s friend and relative. The effect entails the greatest possible losses on the victim, such as the loss of his or her future. The value of a human’s future is given emphasis as the wrong-making feature of abortion. But not only humans have futures, some other species like nonhuman mammals can have futures too. And so, it can be asserted that it is also wrong to kill them. Active euthanasia is among the few exceptions in the claim that the loss of one’s future is the wrong-making feature of abortion. It is because the value of one’s future is greatly emphasized in this claim, as such, persons who are severely and incurably ill, who face a future of pain and despair, and who wish to die will not have suffered a loss if they are killed. Past experiences on one hand have no connection in the explanation of what makes killing wrong. One’s future can be valuable even if he or she does not value it, just like the example given, a young person attempts suicide but is rescued and goes on to momentous human achievements. Contraception is another exception to this claim in the sense that no human future is denied by using contraceptives because there is no actual combination to form a fetus at all.
Attention should not only be focused on the moral status of the fetus. Interests of the woman and those of the fetus should be identical. There should be no competition between the rights of women and those of the fetuses because they are both significant players on the issue. Women oppression is prevalent at present but this should not be the matter for abortion to be legalized or become morally permissible. Abortion is definitely not the solution for a woman’s personal difficulties or the solution for the nation’s problem on population. The state should direct its resources to support women who choose to continue their pregnancies rather than allocating funds to eliminate abortion in the country. In addition, governments should develop programs for pre and postnatal care and nutrition of pregnant women ensuring the health and well-being of more fetuses and, ultimately, of more infants.
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PostSubject: For question number 3   Thu Nov 27, 2008 2:57 am

The need to abort
Abortion is a serious moral issue. It must be really hard for a woman undergoing pregnancy and at the same time thinking of aborting what is inside her as an option.

There are some questions that I think has to be first dealt with before even answering the question of whether abortion is right or wrong.

First, in what kind or heterosexual relationships does abortion usually becomes a choice? Is it inside marriage or outside marriage?

I do believe that although we can never claim that all married couples do not think of abortion, premarital sex produced pregnancies that usually tends to resort to this moral issue.

Another question would be, "Why would a woman/girl would consider abortion?" Is it because the guy is shying away from responsibility? Or because her parents have plans for her and that continuing pregnancy to having a baby would ruin her future? Or does the girl sees it as a hindrance to her future or career or reputation? Or the society will ostracize her? Or she's going to die if she continue her pregnancy? Or she just simply don't want a baby? Or whatever.

Understand abortion

Whatever answer to that question, I could never fully understand the meaning of abortion for a woman who is undergoing such a dilemma.

I could never fully understand the meaning of having an organism inside me that has the possibility of becoming a human, fully dependent on me and my choice. I could never fully understand how it feels to be pregnant.

And that is exactly the reason why I think discussing abortion whether it is morally permissible or not is really tough.

A guy like me could only imagine, analyze and philosophize concepts and theories that would somehow seem to capture everything that is essential in understanding abortion, but truly could not capture everything - the meaning and feeling of abortion from a female and from the fetus.

My personal bias is that human reasoning is not enough to understand everything, human knowledge can explain how it is like to die as a fetus, but we can never fully grasp the whole meaning of dying or living on our own.

For me everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. Therefore, for me abortion is permissible, but one should also be aware that it has its consequences whether be good or bad.

Abortion could pose many serious health problems for the woman, at the same time it also gives her many advantages depending on how she perceive her situation.

Assertions on abortion

According to Jane English, a philosophy teacher in University of North Carolina, in her paper entitled "Abortion and the Concept of a Person," conservatives gives the conclusion that abortion is wrong because it is murder. Jane English refutes this assertion by stating that not all killings of humans are murders. Killing, even of an innocent person, may be justified in the name of self defense.

On the other hand, liberals see that a woman can do whatever she please to do with the fetus for it is not yet a human until it leaves the womb after birth. However, Jane English refutes this idea by stating that you cannot do everything with your body if it is going to affect someone else and that if a fetus is not a person it doesn't mean you can do everything to it.

Jane English rebuttals are based on present legal trends. Her line of reasoning is inside the framework of an established laws regarding self defense and animal cruelty.

Although, Jane English asserts that there could be no single criterion that could capture the concept of a person and that she qualified her stand by setting a condition, that at somewhat early stages of development of the fetus where it does not yet resemble a human like baby, abortion is permissible and at the later stages of pregnancy, where the fetus is more like a human, it is not, unless outweighed by a serious circumstance like possible death of the mother if pregnancy is continued.

Don Marquis, a professor of philosophy in the University of Kansas, concludes in his paper entitled "Why is Abortion is Immoral?" that abortion is immoral with few exceptions, by arguing that fetuses have the same moral status and standing as other person have. His inference is based on the assumption that "whether or not abortion is morally permissible stands or falls on whether or not a fetus is the sort of being whose life it is seriously wrong to end," is correct.

Don Marquis said that normally, pro-choicer qualifies the fetus as non-human by viewing it as less of a human and more of an irrational, non-social beings. Anti abortionist on the other hand views a fetus like a baby, incorporating emotive descriptions of the fetus so as to arouse sympathy from the people.

Professor of philosophy, Sally Markowitz of Willamette Unversity in Salem, Oregon asserts in her paper "Feminism and Abortion" that abortion is permissible if women find themselves facing unwanted pregnancies in a society in which they would suffer discrimination and experience marked inequality.

Her assertion is based on the assumption that a fetus has a serious right to life and that women have less power in the society than men.


Jane English's conclusion seems to be sound and convincing for she have stated a condition that would justify abortion if it is done in the early period of the development stage and it is mostly not anymore justifiable if the fetus is on the later stage of pregnancy or when the fetus resembles more like a baby.

But we have to understand that pregnancy is one single season with different stages. She has to clearly define what she means about "early" stages and "later" stages of pregnancy. Because the "likeness" of the fetus in to a baby is highly relative.

This lacking doesn't necessarily mean her argument is invalid.

Don Marquis' argument on the other hand is valid in the sense that he was able to establish his argument by first proving that the fetus has its moral status like ordinary people. Therefore killing a fetus which intrinsically have a moral status is wrong just like when it is wrong when you decide to kill an adult person.

Sally Markowitz's argument is also valid. This means abortion is not justified if that pregnant woman is in a highly conducive environment and society for pregnancy without discrimination and intimidation from economic factors.
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PostSubject: Question #3   Thu Nov 27, 2008 6:56 pm

I focused on Jane English's "Abortion and the Concept of a Person". The article is divided into two majors points which is subdivided into severals assertion or assumptions and these two are 1. The concept of a person and 2. Justifying abortion using the concept that is presented. The author is able to used others views on the concept of a person and through it she is able to find answers that is strongly supported. And the burden of validating their assertion lies upon the coherence of her claims that are also well supported.
The first point of the paper is the controversial concept of person. Using different views from different people she is able to consolidate them into a powerful premise. As i analyze, John Noonan's work catch my attention. He argues that newborns (including fetuses) are not human since they need aid from other people to live. It is like suggesting that a person is someone who is capable of living on his/her own without any help and assistance from others. Although, he does not say, but I interpret it that way. I assume that he is taking here PRIMARILY to physical aid. For newborns are not YET capable of using their body in order to survive. Here, i think his claims are too broad disregarding other factors that would contradict it immediately. He should have elucidated further so that he could have supported the conclusion strongly. My counter questions would be: Do grown ups (capable of living on their own) live by themselves without even asking assistance from others? If ever they did ask, does it mean that they are non humans?
Moving on, in her discussion English presented at most 5 factors where in a human is qualified: namely, biological, psychological, rationality, social, and legal. However, she indicated that it does not necessary follows that when someone fails to qualify on these factors then he/she is non-human. Since what she had presented are only features. If this is the case, then no one has ever been qualified into to it. Another is, the premise presented, as well as assumptions, assertions and examples, does not support the conclusion. The premises are heavy, but the conclusion is light and unsupported. I suggest that in qualifying a fetus as a human there is a need to have one concept of a person wherein everybody can be qualify. Everybody here means those whose are not fetus and newborns since we are still validating it. In that case, a fetus or a new born would be qualify to be one. However, that suggestion is subjected to biases to give definition that is affected by their ideology which they advocate.
In the first place, a definition is highly affected by these factors. But there is a need to come up with a single definition, whether or not, it is subjected to biases. English presented both views of the opponents and proponents of abortion. But she failed to give a concrete conclusion as to a fetus is a human, that lead us into the next major points of justifying abortion by the concept of a human.
Justifying the act of abortion, is the next maj0r point of her article. She uses the work of Thomson which is "A Defense of Abortion". Thomson uses the model of self defense to conclude that abortion is permissible at some cases.
Thomson believed that abortion is justified when the life of the woman is at stake. And she is able to support it, through the self defense model. I quite agree if it is the choice of the woman to abort the fetus if it is inflicting her death. The role of the doctor is another thing. Since they specialized peculiar cases, then he/she can influence the decision of the woman regarding it. I think the presence and knowledge of the doctor would confirm the decision of the woman. However, regarding those pregnancies among teenagers, abortion is unjustified. In the first place, why in age in premarital sex. Not only the consequence of early pregnancies, but it is possible for you to be infected by sexually transmitted disease. Yes, there may be a consequence of how to face your community since you have your early motherhood. But it will not last long, eventually gossip would die down. It is better than being a murderer of an innocent. Yes, the shame would cause you harm, but like I have said it would not take long.
And all there is a chance that certain internal complication would occur because of abortion. The claim that abortion is permissible due to unfavorable circumstances is strongly supported.
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