Abortion Rights and the Violinist Argument
Q&A Radio: Sunday, 2 June 2013, Question 1
I answered a question on abortion rights and the violinist argument on Philosophy in Action Radio on 2 June 2013. You can listen to or download the podcast segment below – or check out the whole episode.
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 Hsieh, 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
Support Philosophy in Action
Remember, Philosophy in Action Radio is available to anyone, free of charge. That's because our goal is to spread rational principles for real life far and wide, as we do every week to thousands of listeners. We love doing that, but each episode requires our time, effort, and money. So if you enjoy and value our work, please contribute to our tip jar. We suggest $5 per episode or $20 per month, but any amount is appreciated. You can send your contribution via Dwolla, PayPal, or US Mail.
Thank you, if you've contributed to Philosophy in Action! You make our work possible every week, and we're so grateful for that!
If you enjoy Philosophy in Action, please help us spread the word about it! Tell your friends about upcoming broadcasts by forwarding our newsletter. Link to episodes or segments from our topics archive. Share our blog posts, podcasts, and events on Facebook and Twitter. Rate and review the podcast in iTunes (M4A and MP3). We appreciate any and all of that!
About Philosophy in Action Radio
I'm Dr. Diana Hsieh. I'm a philosopher specializing the application of rational principles to the challenges of real life. I received my Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2009. My dissertation defended moral responsibility and moral judgment against the doubts raised by Thomas Nagel's "problem of moral luck."
My radio show, Philosophy in Action Radio, broadcasts live over the internet on Sunday mornings and Wednesday evenings. On Sunday mornings, I answer four meaty questions applying rational principles to the challenges of real life in a live hour-long show. Greg Perkins of Objectivist Answers co-hosts the show. On Wednesday evenings, I interview an expert guest about a topic of practical importance.
If you join us for the live broadcasts, you can ask follow-up questions and make comments in the text-based chat. Otherwise, you can listen to the podcast by subscribing to our Podcast RSS Feed. You can also peruse the show archives, where episodes and questions are sorted by date and by topic.
I can be reached via e-mail to [email protected].