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05 June 2013

Abortion Rights and the Violinist Argument: Philosophy in Action Podcast


On Sunday's Philosophy in Action Radio, I answered a question on abortion rights and the violinist argument. The question was:

Can abortion rights be justified based on Judith Thomson's "violinist" argument? Even if we accept that an embryo is a person with a right to life, can't abortion rights be justified on the basis of Judith Thomson's famous "violinist" thought experiment – meaning, on the grounds that one person does not have the right to use another person for life support?

My Answer, In Brief: Judith Thomson’s defense of abortion is an excellent way to challenge and dispense with the view that abortion immoral and should be illegal because the embryo or fetus has a right to life. It’s not a definitive account of rights in pregnancy, nor is it intended to be such. It's major flaw is that it relies too heavily on intuitions, albeit good ones.

Download or Listen to My Full Answer:

Tags: Abortion, Academia, Ethics, Intuitions, Judith Thomson, Law, Personhood, Philosophy, Politics, Trolley Problem

To comment on this question or my answer, visit its comment thread.

A podcast of the full episode – where I answered questions on abortion rights and the violinist argument, Obama's cultural impact, laws against marital infidelity, managing demands for family time, and more – is available here: Episode of 2 June 2013.

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