The Jury Talks Back

3/10/2009

Non-Religious Argument Against Abortion

Filed under: Uncategorized — Fritz @ 8:53 pm

From, Marquis, Don (April 1989). “Why Abortion is Immoral”. The Journal of Philosophy 86 (4): 183-202.

The misfortune of premature death involves a loss of the goods that make life worth living. On Marquis’s view, “the misfortune of premature death consists of the loss to us of the future goods of consciousness. What are these goods? … The goods of life are whatever we get out of life. The goods of life are those items toward which we take a pro attitude. They are completed projects of which we are proud, the pursuit of our goals, aesthetic enjoyments, friendships, intellectual pursuits, and physical pleasures of various sorts. The goods of life are what make life worth living” (190).

Accordingly, Marquis subscribes to the Future Like Ours Thesis (or FLO for short):

FLO: Killing a human is wrong because it deprives her of “a future like ours.”

Arguments in Support of the FLO theory:

The Considered Judgment Argument:

1. According to our considered judgments, what people fear the most about death is the loss of future experience.
2. If 1, then, according to our considered judgments, it is the loss of future experience that fully constitutes death as a grave misfortune to people.
3. Therefore, according to our considered judgments, it is the loss of future experience that fully constitutes death as a grave misfortune to people.
4. The fetus is equally capable of sustaining a loss of future experience.
5. Therefore, death is an equally grave misfortune for the fetus.
6. It is wrong to deliberately inflict a misfortune on a fetus that is as grave as death to people.
7. Therefore, it is wrong to deliberately inflict death on the fetus.

Another argument:

1. What makes murder the worst of crimes is that it deprives a person of her future experience.
2. If 1, then it is the worst of wrongs to deprive a being capable of future experience of all her future experience.
3. Therefore, it is the worst of wrongs to deprive a being capable of future experience of all her future experience.
4. A fetus is capable of future experience.
5. Therefore, it is the worst of wrongs to deprive a fetus of all her future experience.

h/t: Keith Burgess-Jackson

10 Comments

  1. But the core issue with abortion is whether the death caused by an abortion is morally justified (or at least acceptable) or not, not whether death is generally immoral. Not all deaths caused by another person are murder, nor are they all morally unjust. The quoted argument provides no insight toward that debate; in fact, it seems to rely on the assumption that all death is morally wrong.

    Just to be clear, I am not personally promoting either side of the debate in this post. I’m just positing a response to the points.

    Comment by Buzz Killington — 3/11/2009 @ 7:38 am

  2. Whadda? There is only one argument: Do you value children or not?

    Comment by nk — 3/11/2009 @ 7:46 am

  3. P.S. And it’s totally non-godbothering.

    For one illustration, the Chinese with their one-family-one-child policy and their three-thousand who knows-how-many-years preference for boys over girls are finding out that they are becoming a nation of old men.

    Comment by nk — 3/11/2009 @ 7:51 am

  4. Supporters would respond, “do you value liberty or not?”

    Comment by Buzz Killington — 3/11/2009 @ 8:58 am

  5. You are free to leave our society whenever you wish. When you live with us, you live with our values.

    Comment by nk — 3/11/2009 @ 9:08 am

  6. I happen to have religious belifs, but I don’t think they are dominant in my being opposed to abortion.

    It is the only death-of-a-human-at-the-hands-of-another-human that I know of, where the person being killed is not even accused of wrong-doing or hostility toward the killer.

    We had a program here for a while where you could dump any child that was a bother.

    I wondered at the time, why don’t they just change the limit for abortion to some reasonable number, like 18.

    Comment by Larry Sheldon — 3/11/2009 @ 7:05 pm

  7. You are free to leave our society whenever you wish. When you live with us, you live with our values.

    And they could say the same to you.

    Comment by Buzz Killington — 3/12/2009 @ 3:37 am

  8. Im sorry, Buzz. I often let brevity overcome coherence. It is a balancing test, and as many times as I have read Roe v. Wade and its companion cases, I do not see where the Court balanced society’s value of children against value of liberty. The value of children was totally ignored.

    So, yes, society could tell me that, in a Democratic manner, it has decided that liberty is more valuable than children. But it was not allowed to do so. Five old men on the Supreme Court made the decision that children have no value.

    Comment by nk — 3/12/2009 @ 7:17 am

  9. Fair enough. Like I said, I’m not endorsing a side with these replies… more like playing devil’s advocate. The overall point I’m trying to show is that the two sides look at it so differently, that it’s hard to directly weigh the arguments against one another.

    I’m not willing to say one side is clearly right and the other wrong; it does end up being a matter of subjective values. I have doubts that it’s possible to change a person’s mind in the issue through discourse.

    Comment by Buzz Killington — 3/12/2009 @ 7:45 am

  10. I have doubts that it’s possible to change a person’s mind in the issue through discourse.

    You’re right, it’s not. I became a father when I was forty-five. If I had known what I had been missing, before then, I would have thrown myself out a window.

    Comment by nk — 3/12/2009 @ 9:00 am

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