Philosophy Contemporary Moral Issues

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Contemporary Moral Issues- Final Exam- Kaaran Singh

1) The general purpose of Don Marquis essay in “Why Abortion is Immoral” is to develop a general argument for the claim that the overwhelming majority of deliberate abortions are seriously immoral. Marquis believes the act of abortion and the act of killing a being with a right to life is morally wrong because he claims that this act of killing robs such a being of its future. The loss of one’s life is one of the greatest losses one can suffer and therefore that loss would deprive an individual of all the experiences that would otherwise have developed in their future. Therefore, according to Marquis on page 144, killing someone is wrong, primarily because the killing inflicts one of the greatest possible losses on the victim. Also, he claims that killing is wrong through two theories. The desire theory in which killing conflicts with a strong desire of a person killed and the discontinuation theory in which killing abruptly disrupts their conscious life. Don Marquis argues that all abortions are prima face wrong because you are denying a future of enjoyable human experiences and I believe he sufficiently establishes this point. The effect of the loss of a biological life is the loss from all possible activities, projects, and experiences that would have made human life enjoyable which would otherwise have constituted in a person’s future personal life. These enjoyable experiences are either valuable for their own sake or are means to something else that is valuable for its own sake. Some parts of a future may not be valued to a fetus at that given moment, however it will come to be valued if it were to maintain its right to live and grow because values and capacities change. If a fetus is killed, it is deprived both of what It now values which would have been part of its future personal life, but also what it would come to value. Therefore abortion deprives of all the value of one’s future. This is what makes abortion prima face wrong. Logically this makes sense as well. Say if Michael has a future like ours of great value and killing Michael deprives Michael of that future, then killing Michael is morally wrong. We shouldn’t have the power to deprive somebody as so, especially at this type of magnitude. Who are we as individuals to take another individual’s chance at life and take away from them the same experiences that we, as in the people, who do get to live, are currently experiencing, as well as our attainable future possibilities. Depriving a being of the value of a future like ours makes killing it wrong. Killing a fetus deprives it of the value of a future like ours. So killing a fetus is wrong. Consequently, this makes abortion immoral.

2) The deterrence argument also known as the ‘best-bet’ argument simply states that the death penalty will cause fewer murders. The aim is to ‘deter’ or discourage a criminal from future unlawful acts by implementing an understanding of the full out consequences even if it were to pertain to the death penalty. This is to create fear to people including potential criminals that will cause to have a greater deterrent effect on them. The argument is that people fear death more than they do any other humane punishment.

The fact that those who are condemned to death do everything in their power to get their sentences postponed or reduced to long-term prison sentences, shows that they fear death more than life in prison. The death penalty is a humane punishment therefore people will be deterred more by the death penalty than by any other humane punishment.

One problem with the Deterrence argument is that it is based on a descriptive premise that rests mostly on common sense and not on any clear and hard statistical facts. The common sense view is that a murderer should think twice before committing a crime such as homicide because as a consequence the murderer himself/herself can be put to death as well....
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