Observes that the abortion debate is intractable since both sides have such different methodological assumptions
Give an example of the differences the opposing sides have.
Pro-life: assumes fetus is a person from the moment of conception; concludes abortion is immoral because the fetus has a right to life Pro-choice: presupposes psychological criteria for personhood that the fetus does not possess, fetus is thus not a person and has no rights
How does Marquis suggest that we approach the morality of abortion?
Before addressing abortion directly, we need to figure out why killing in general is wrong
What answers does Marquis reject in regards to answering why killing is wrong?
-Killing is not wrong because it brutalizes the killer -Rejects the idea that it is wrong because of the effects it has on friends and family
What does Marquis claim the brutalization comes from?
Derives from participating in an immoral act -Still need to investigate the source of the immorality
Why does Marquis reject the effects on friends and family?
If these effects were what made killing wrong, then there would be no wrongness in killing isolated hermits with neither friends or family -Since these killings are wrong, these effects cannot constitute the immorality of the killing
What does Marquis claim is the source of the wrongness of killing?
The effect that such killings have on the victim -"The loss of one's life is the greatest that one can suffer."
Why does Marquis assert that the loss of one's life is the greatest that one can suffer?
For it deprives one of all of the experiences, activities, projects, and enjoyments that would otherwise have constituted one's future
What two consideration does Marquis cite in support of his assertion?
-Killing is often thought to be one of the worst crimes, which is not surprising as it deprives the victim of more of a future than any other crime -Those dying of AIDS or cancer often lament their loss of ability to do things in the future
What are some of the key strengths of his argument?
His account accommodates... -the wrongness of killing non-humans so long as they are deprived of valuable futures (including aliens and animals) -the moral permissibility of euthanasia -not allow the permissibility of infanticide -does not revolve around the protection of potential persons
How does Marquis's account accommodate the moral permissibility of euthanasia?
The recipient of euthanasia does not have a valuable future ahead of him, so killing is not wrong -Any account which cannot accommodate the permissibility of euthanasia should appear suspect
How does Marquis's account avoid the topic of a potential person?
Thinks that possession of a valuable future is what is morally relevant -The moral category of person never enters his analysis
What is the desire account?
Holds that killing is wrong because it frustrates a desire of the victim to continue living
What logic proceeds from the desire account if it is true?
It would not be immoral to kill those who do not possess a desire for continued existence -ex: it would not be morally wrong to kill depressed teenagers or adults -- this is wrong so the account fails
What does Marquis argue?
That the reason that anyone would desire life is because they would value their future -If this is right, then it is more evidence for his account
What is the discontinuation account?
Holds that killing is wrong because it discontinues the experiences of the victim
Why does Marquis think that this account is wrong?
It is not experiences themselves that are valuable, it is valuable experiences that matter
What is a weakness of the discontinuation account?
It cannot accommodate the moral permissibility of euthanasia
What is Tooley's account?
Proposed that an entity cannot possess a right to life unless it has a capacity to desire continued existence -Since fetuses do not have the capacity to desire their continued existence, they do not have the right to life
What are Marquis's problems with Tooley's account?
-Relies upon psychological characteristics which Marquis was trying to avoid -Thinks Tooley's first claim is wrong
What is Tooley's general position?
Right to X requires a capacity to desire X and that a capacity to desire X requires a concept of X
What specific problems does Marquis have with Tooley's general position?
-Patient with no capacity to desire medication -Drug that prevents user from desiring his continued existence -Allows for infanticide
What is Bassen's account?
Argued that the wrongness of killing requires that there be a victim and that sentience is a necessary precondition for being a victim -Notes that plants can be killed but that killing them is not wrong, for they are not sentient and thus not victims
What problems does Marquis have with Bassen's account?
-It is at least plausible that killing plants is wrong because they do not have valuable futures -Comatose patients are not sentient, yet killing them is still wrong
What has Marquis concluded in regards to the wrongness of killing?
It deprives the victim of a valuable future. His account can accommodate the moral permissibility of euthanasia (unlike the discontinuation account or Bassen’s account); it can accommodate the moral impermissibility of killing the depressed or otherwise suicidal (unlike the desire account); and it can accommodate the moral impermissibility of infanticide (unlike Tooley’s account).
Summarize how Marquis employs his strategy in order to criticize alternative views as to why killing is wrong.
Looks at infanticide, killing if a depressed teenager, and euthanasia -He thinks that these have uncontroversial moral status and then argues that each alternative gets at least one commitment wrong
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