Creation and Abortion: A Study in Moral and Legal Philosophy

By F. M. Kamm | Go to book overview

May We Kill in Nonabortion Cases?

The Violinist Case

In 1971 Judith Thomson1 suggested that it would be helpful when discussing abortion to consider the following analogy: Imagine, she said, that you have been kidnapped by a group of people who want to save a dying violinist. The only way to save him is to plug him into your kidneys for nine months. (No one else is available for use.) You have nothing to do with the fact that he is dying or that he needs your kidneys; nevertheless, the group plugs him in to you. In order for you to be freed from the violinist before the nine months are over, he must die, either because he will die without support from you or because we must actively kill him in the process of, or even as a means of, detaching him from you. Thomson concluded that it would be morally permissible to kill the innocent violinist in any of these ways. 2


Variations

Expanding on Thomson's analogy, also consider cases in which you were attached to the violinist voluntarily with the intention of helping him, or as a foreseen result of your voluntary act. Is it permissible to kill him or to have him killed in order to free yourself? 3 In particular, consider the following variations on becoming attached to an unconscious violinist: (1) Someone puts the violinist inside your body against your will. (The costs involved in keeping him are similar to those of

-20-

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Creation and Abortion: A Study in Moral and Legal Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 3
  • 1 - May We Kill in Nonabortion Cases? 20
  • Notes 39
  • 2 - Applying the Argument to Specific Nonabortion Cases 42
  • Notes 63
  • 3 - Variations and Alternatives 64
  • Notes 76
  • 4 - May We Kill in Abortion Cases? 78
  • Notes 120
  • 5 - Creating Responsibly 124
  • Notes 182
  • 6 - Informed Consent, Responsibilities in Pregnancy, and External Means of Gestation 186
  • Notes 218
  • Index 221
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