Creation and Abortion: A Study in Moral and Legal Philosophy

By F. M. Kamm | Go to book overview

It is also worth noting that in the discussion of abortion we will consider the social effects of an individual's not exercising her right and also the affect on her self-concept. Then we will introduce other reasons for action besides an individual's concern for avoiding a physical burden, and these reasons may fit the alternative view we are now considering more satisfactorily as justifications for a killing than does the simple avoidance of physical burdens.


Summary: The Basic Strategy of the Output Cutoff Argument

The basic strategy of the output cutoff argument is to show, first, that it is permissible to let the violinist die and, second, that his being killed by a third party also is permissible, in part because letting him die is permissible. This killing is shown to be permissible because one does not have an obligation to stay attached to someone rather than have him killed, when the killing involves only taking away a benefit (i.e., continued life) the victim need not have been given, and does not involve the victim's being harmed relative to opportunities he had prior to attachment, or his losing what you are causally responsible for his having and that he could retain without the use of your body, and when your efforts are large enough to merit a defense involving killing, there being no other way of stopping the efforts that is not too costly to you.

If the violinist had the right to only a short stay in your body or if (as Thomson puts it) it would be indecent to refuse him a short stay, it would not be permissible to kill him in order to end such a brief stay. Nonetheless, you might still want to end residence even if only a short period remained before he could be naturally and safely detached, if this short period were particularly burdensome, perhaps because a long period of attachment had preceded it or in virtue of its coming to a very painful end.


Notes
1.
Judith Thomson, "A Defense of Abortion and Rights and Deaths", in M. Cohen et al., eds., The Rights and Wrongs of Abortion (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1974).

-39-

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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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