Abortion Rights and the Violinist Argument
Q&A Radio: 2 June 2013, Question 1
I answered a question on abortion rights and the violinist argument on 2 June 2013. You can listen to or download the podcast of just this question below – or check out the whole episode of Philosophy in Action Radio.
Can abortion rights be justified based on Judith Thomson's "violinist" argument? Even if we accept that an embryo is a person with a right to life, can't abortion rights be justified on the basis of Judith Thomson's famous "violinist" thought experiment – meaning, on the grounds that one person does not have the right to use another person for life support?
My Answer, In Brief: Judith Thomson’s defense of abortion is an excellent way to challenge and dispense with the view that abortion immoral and should be illegal because the embryo or fetus has a right to life. It’s not a definitive account of rights in pregnancy, nor is it intended to be such. It's major flaw is that it relies too heavily on intuitions, albeit good ones.
- Duration: 23:02
- Download: MP3 Segment (7.9 MB)
To save the file to your computer, right-click and save the link above. You can automatically download that and other podcasts by subscribing to Philosophy in Action's Podcast RSS Feed:
- A Defense of Abortion by Judith Jarvis Thomson
- The "Personhood" Movement Is Anti-Life: Why It Matters that Rights Begin at Birth, Not Conception by Ari Armstrong and Diana Brickell, particularly Rights in Pregnancy
- Libertarians for Life: Abortion and Thomson's Violinist: Unplugging a Bad Analogy
- Abort73: Answering a More Sophisticated Defense of Abortion – Part 12
- A Defense of Abortion by David Boonin
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About Philosophy in Action
I'm Dr. Diana Brickell (formerly Diana Hsieh). I'm a philosopher, and I've long specialized in the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I completed my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. I retired from work as a public intellectual in 2015.
From September 2009 to September 2015, I produced a radio show and podcast, Philosophy in Action Radio. In the primary show, my co-host Greg Perkins and I answered questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life. We broadcast live over the internet on Sunday mornings.
My first book, Responsibility & Luck: A Defense of Praise and Blame, can be purchased in paperback and Kindle. The book defends the justice of moral praise and blame of persons using an Aristotelian theory of moral responsibility, thereby refuting Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck." My second book (and online course), Explore Atlas Shrugged, is a fantastic resource for anyone wishing to study Ayn Rand's epic novel in depth.
I can be reached via e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.