By Diana Hsieh
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.
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- Duration: 23:02
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Tags: Abortion, Academia, Ethics, Intuitions, Judith Thomson, Law, Personhood, Philosophy, Politics, Trolley Problem
- A Defense of Abortion by Judith Jarvis Thomson
- The "Personhood" Movement Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters that Rights Begin at Birth, Not Conception by Ari Armstrong and Diana Hsieh, particularly Rights in Pregnancy
- Libertarians for Life: Abortion and Thomson's Violinist: Unplugging a Bad Analogy
- Abort73: Answering a More Sophisticated Defense of Abortion – Part 12
- A Defense of Abortion by David Boonin
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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