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You open the window, because you want a breeze, and you make sure to put up your screen protector, which is 99.9 effective in keeping out people-seeds. Are we really supposed to dispassionately weigh the importance of a person when that person is likened to pollen? Don Marquis argues for the contrary conclusion: Abortion is immoral.Of course, it’s going to be easy to say, with Thomson, that it is permissible to eliminate a people-seed: Thomson strips the real-life being, which is the biological result of a biological process carrying the biological code of her parents, of her connection to the sexual partners who created her. What’s interesting is that Marquis follows Thomson in assuming his opponents’ central claim.A person becomes a foreign invader; a falling leaf from an outside tree; something alien and utterly unlike us. Just as Thomson tries to strengthen her position by assuming that the fetus is a person, Marquis tries to strengthen the anti-abortion position by assuming that the fetus is not a person. The future of a standard fetus includes a set of experiences, projects, activities, and such that are identical with the futures of adult human beings and are identical with the futures of young children.
The violinist, for example, is obviously a person; in other words, no one would deny that an adult human being who skillfully plays an instrument is a person.
Even in the examples after this one, as in the people-seeds scenario, the moment a person-seed lands on the carpet (i.e., fertilization), it’s a person.
Thomson is basically raising the hurdle that a “pro-lifer” needs to clear.
Whereas before, all that the anti-abortion advocate had to do was show that the fetus is a person, now, in light of Thomson’s argument, even if the “pro-lifer” does this, that is no longer enough to secure a victory in the debate.
They can be useful for shorthand, sure, so long as the anti-abortion camp doesn’t go so far as to believe that its opponents take life to be bad, and so long as the pro-abortion advocates don’t caricature their opponents as thinking it’s wrong to make choices.
Despite academia’s recent tendency to intensify (or incubate) the vulgarities of broader culture, and despite the self-satisfaction of its cloistered, professional thinkers, there is great value to exploring what the academic version of the abortion debate has been like.
Her thought experiment about the violinist is designed to be the strongest possible response to this most stringent form of anti-abortionism.
The idea being: If you think abortion is always wrong, what about a case such as this, in which someone was violated (kidnapped) and as a result now has a person her body is responsible for keeping alive? Notice the last sentence in the preceding paragraph. Doesn’t the “pro-choice” camp recoil at designating the fetus as a person?
To give one example: The level of inconvenience caused by having a fully grown violinist attached to your body far exceeds the inconveniences of pregnancy.
You would have to cart around a hospital bed with an adult lying on it everywhere you went.