Judith Thomson's critique on abortion is almost surely the most extensively anthologized paper on the subject. It was issued one year prior to Roe v. Wade and Thomson disagrees in it for what may superlative be portrayed as a reasonable pro-choice position. The paper is not always simple to pursue; while the personal arguments are comprehensible, the general thread is occasionally less obvious.
Thomson starts by allowing for the characteristic anti-abortion argument. The critical principle, she articulates, is characteristically an assertion that the foetus is completely a full human being from the instant of conception. She upholds that this is false, and moreover that it is argued for poorly, but she does not let her case hinge on claiming that the foetus is not a human being. She essentially consents to for the sake of the argument that it is a real person. That is a powerful move if it happens. Although she grants the principle for the sake of the argument, she does not actually consider it is accurate. As she perceives it, the basis that the foetus is a human being hinges on a fallacy that is the fallacy of the slippery slope. There are assorted descriptions of this fallacy, but they all hinge on the equivalent line of reasoning: they acquire a couple of thoughts that are connected with a range of transitional cases and where there is no sharp line stating to us which intermediary cases fit in with which notion. After which they recognize one conclusion of the continuum with the other.
In any abortion case, the argument usually follows that a newborn infant is an individual who is has a full right to life, amongst other issues. However, a newborn infant is not exceptionally different from a foetus at the commencement of the ninth month. Actually, fetuses much juvenile than this, if born prematurely, would be care for as individuals. Conversely, there is no way to portray a sharp line. Premature babies are just a little dissimilar from non-feasible fetuses; all the way back to a newly fertilized ova. Therefore, the conclusion is hypothetical to be that a foetus is a complete human being from the instant of conception. However, this point is a case of the slippery slope fallacy. As Thomson illustrates, there is a constant process of growth from acorn to oak. However, an acorn is not an oak tree.
Even though Thomson believes that the argument does not work, and albeit she believes that a foetus is the early phases of its growth is not a fully-fledged individual, she assumes a vital strategy for the rest of the article that she grants the opposition its key basis. She agrees to, for the sake of the row, that the foetus is a fully-fledged human individual from the instant of conception. As held above, this is a powerful method. If this is successful, it demonstrates that the antagonist's position is not merely in requirement of patching up; it demonstrates that it can simply be guarded by significantly different techniques. Whether Thomson achieves something or not, though, is a different issue, one will have to adjudicate for oneself.
Thomson's subsequent move is to reconsider the typical anti-abortion dispute and to endeavour to demonstrate that it is blemished. The argument itself is presented in brief: Every individual has a right to life; the foetus is a person and therefore it has a right to life. The mother has a right to manage her body, but the right to life is a more powerful right. Consequently, an abortion may not be executed. She employs the instance of the famous unconscious violin player to undercut this argument. This instance exemplifies a general piece of equipment in philosophical argumentation. It is an experiment of thought. In a thought experiment, we deem a theoretical case that segregates some feature of the real world, some feature that we desire to consider about more cautiously. Our responses to the theoretical case can occasionally direct us in scrutinizing the real-world circumstances that we are apprehensive about. In this instance, Thomson requests one to envisage that one finds oneself connected to the well-known unconscious violin player. If he cannot utilize your kidneys for nine months, he will die. One is not in this position not since one agreed to be however it because the Society of Music Lovers abducted him or her. Even so, the violin player himself is blameless; he had no place in creating the person’s dilemma.
Thomson believes it is far from clear that one is indebted to stay in that bed, connected to the violin player. Established, the violin player has a right to life. However, it is not at all obvious that it trumps one’s right to manage what occurs to one’s body. One may objection that this case is extremely dissimilar from the characteristic pregnancy, and one would be accurate. However, note cautiously: Thomson's grounds for raising the instance is not for the reason that she believes it demonstrates that abortion is tolerable. What she is attempting to do is illustrate that the customary anti-abortion argument is not adequate. If an argument is accurate, then employing the same reasoning to other cases ought to also be accurate. The anti-abortion argument handles the specific case of abortion by logic from a more universal code: if we have an option between valuing an individual's right to life and acknowledging an individual's right to manage their body, the right to life ought to constantly win out. That is what the anti-abortionist appears to be saying. Therefore, if the anti-abortionist is accurate, we cannot execute the individual whose life is in the equilibrium in these cases. Thomson believes that this argument creates the wrong consequence when we relate it to the violin player case. Consequently, we can have uncertainty that it creates the exact result in the abortion case.
Nevertheless, Thomson recognizes that there is opportunity for the opponent to object to the instance. They could adjust their point a little and articulate that the original anti-abortion argument merely applies if no one's rights were infringed on. In particular, they could say that the case of rape is an exemption. In reality, many politicians and others do desire to make an exemption for the case of rape. However, Thomson shows that this has an unsavoury atmosphere about it. Is the thought that a foetus that exists owing to rape does not have a right to life? Alternatively, has a lessened right to life? This point appears hard to acknowledge. In addition, Thomson indicates that many anti-abortionists do not recognize it. They demand what she describes as the extreme view that is abortion is forever incorrect, even to save the life of the mother. We will progress to what Thomson has to articulate about this view in an instant. However, prior to doing that, a query for one to consider, do anti-abortionists who consent to an exception for cases of rape have to articulate that the foetus’s right to life is lessened or absent in those cases? Alternatively, is there some other technique of creating the difference that appears less unpleasant? Conversely, if there is an enhanced method to make the difference, will it actually leave the case of rape in a class on its own? On the other hand, will it smudge the borders a lot more than the anti abortionist grants?
Up to now, simply the case wherein the mother's existence is at stake has been shown. What about cases wherein that is not so? It may appear that here the characteristic anti-abortion argument has a great deal more force: what right except the woman's own the right to life could tilt the scale? The difficulty, though, as Thomson maintains, is that the right to life is not an easy thing. She winds up that it cannot do the work the anti-abortionists desire it to. Nothing yet follows about abortion. Conversely, on the universal subject of rights, Thomson proffers another approach, in the line of justice. It is reasonable that the right to life is the right not to be executed unfairly. In addition, if this is right, it is barely apparent that all cases of abortion are cases of unfair killing. Thomson's instance of the boy with the box of chocolates creates the indication about the link between rights and justice. If the boy will not bestow any chocolates to his brother, then we can ask: are the chocolates owned by him alone? If not ,if his brother has a share in them then he is being unfair in not allowing his brother have some. However, if they his alone, he is not being unfair to his brother, though he might be dishonourable. The brother has no right to the chocolates. However, where does this put us regarding abortion? The query, as Thomson perceives it, is whether the foetus has some right to the exploit of the mother's body. In the issue of rape, the response is undoubtedly "No," she believes (Thomson 56). However, what about in the case of intentional intercourse? Could we not argue that the woman is in part accountable for the foetus’s condition and, actually, its very survival? In addition, does this not provide the foetus rights against the woman?
Thomson is not persuaded. She employs a diversity of examples. If a thief or even a guiltless individual gets into ones’ home since my security was not completely sufficient, that offers them no right to the utilize of the home. However, while this is accurate, it does not appear to get us very far. An individual who trips into ones’ house is not, in the usual course of things reliant on him or her. In addition, if she is, I may well have some compulsion to assist her. However, a thief is intentionally infringing on ones’ own rights. That could barely bestow him rights. She ends saying that, the line of argument rooted in the woman's position in bringing the foetus into subsistence can at maximum demonstrate that, in some cases abortion would be unfair murder. In short, it makes at most a restricted case in opposition to abortion.
However, where does this place us? Here Thomson proffers an extremely dissimilar method of dealing with the issue that is one not rooted in the concept of rights whatsoever. The notion she endeavours to employ is moral decency. In addition, her ending is that while there are some cases in which certainly abortion is tolerable, there are other cases in which it would be ethically offensive. The universal thought here is exemplified by the simple case of the boy consumption if the chocolates. Assume the boy possesses the chocolates. Then he is not unfair in not being philanthropic to his brother. However, that does not denote that there is nothing incorrect. At the slightest, he is being selfish. Returning to the violin player: assume the player only required the exploit of ones’s kidneys for one hour, and that you would be basically uninjured if one collaborated. Then one is not unfair if one declines. However, it would be, as she declares, morally indecent of him or her (Thomson 47).
However, notice: we can ask if this paragraph describes the typical pregnancy. In addition, if not, we can ask where that puts us. In reality, overall question of where she puts us, Thomson is obvious that the answer is not patent. She articulates that a sick and greatly scared fourteen-year-old schoolchild, expectant owing to rape, may certainly prefer abortion, and any law, which rules this out, is an insane law.
Conversely, It would be offensive in the woman to ask for an abortion, and indecent in a doctor to execute it, if she is in her seventh month, and desires the abortion simply to shun the irritation of rescheduling a trip abroad. Some individuals have protested that the idea of moral indecency is far too indistinct to be helpful. There may be something to that accusation. However, what I believe Thomson is executing is proposing that the idea of rights is far too awkward an instrument to handle this subject. In addition, we can perceive her as injecting into the abortion subjects questions about the nature of someone who would have an abortion in definite conditions.
In 1972, When Thompson wrote the essay, character-founded approaches to ethics were not in fashion. Nowadays there are many. Consequently, maybe with some additional completion, Thomson's approach could be observed as a contribution to the virtue-ethical treatment of this topic.
Thomson, J. "A Defence of Abortion". Philosophy and Public Affairs 1:1 autumn, 1971: 47-66.