Thomson takes on the debate of abortion by presenting an analogical argument. She uses other several analogical arguments throughout her paper but the most appealing analogical argument is the sick violinist example. To begin Thomson assumes that the fetus has a right to life from the moment of conception. (1.Thomson, CC 37) Imagine that you wake up one morning to find you’ve attached to a famous unconscious violinist. The violinist is attached to you because he needs your kidneys and you were the only individual to share the same blood type as the violinist. (2.Thomson, CC 37) The doctor tells you that to keep the violinist alive he needs to be attached to you for nine months or even more and unplugging yourself would mean killing him immediately. (3.Thomson, CC 37) Furthermore, the doctor explains that all persons have a right to life and violinist is a person, so the violinist has a right to life, but because a person’s right to life is more important than your own individual right you cannot unplug yourself, therefore in doing so would be morally impermissible. (4.Thomson, CC 37)
So how does Thomson use this example to justify abortion? She simply uses the sick violinist example to build an analogical argument to further strengthen her position. Even if we assume that the fetus is a person abortion is not a violation to the fetus right to life and therefore considered as unjustified killing. The mother or the person (in the violinist example) has no moral obligation to save the person/fetus. A person in this case is something with the right to life and therefore applies to the both the violinist example and fetus. On the other hand murder is unjust morally wrong killing, in some cases in self-defense. Therefore in Thomson’s violinist example unplugging yourself from the violinist would not be considered as murder. Murder isn’t just killing the other person it is morally unjustified killing. All that the person has failed to do is give up is his freedom for that things that may bring him happiness in order not to save his life. In this case the mother has no moral duty to stop her life goals and liberties in order to keep providing for the child. With this Thomson shows a strong libertarian approach to her arguments in demonstrating abortion as morally permissible.
Thomson’s sick violinist example challenges Noonan’s pro-life argument to show that her analogy applies to abortion based on specific moral values. A challenge that Thomson presents to the pro-life argument is the general moral values of liberty and avoiding misery. Thomson takes on the case of abortion with a strong libertarian point of view. The only responsibilities that the other person has is to not to interfere with ones liberty. There is no obligation to provide goods and services. Even if the fetus is a person it does not mean that the mother has a moral duty to support the child. It challenges Noonan’s idea that we do have moral duty to provide goods and services to others. (5. Noonan, CC 09). Avoiding misery is another challenge to Noonan’s pro-life position. If the mother chooses to not go through pregnancy is for reasons of avoiding misery. Going through the pregnancy may cause misery upon the mother, maybe the mother did not plan on having a child. Therefore having a child may stop the mother from pursuing her life time goals in order to care for the child. Surely that’s against moral values of avoiding misery.
Noonan addresses several moral arguments concerning abortion in his paper How to Argue About Abortion. His arguments and methods are interesting but throughout his explanations he critics Thomson analogical argument and shows how her argument does not apply to abortion. One of the ways he approaches abortion is through his method of perception. Noonan challenges Thomson’s sick violinist example saying that it is an artificial case. (6. Noonan, CC 05) Noonan does not accept the analogical argument and is...
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