Why abortion is immoral by Don Marquis is the start of two discussions pertaining to whether abortion should be acceptable in our modern society. The argument, Marquis makes, is that abortion actually deprives the fetus’s “future-like-ours. ” Many philosophers support Marquis’ belief by arguing that fetuses have their own possibilities; thus, killing fetuses is absolutely wrong (Marquis, 105). Nevertheless, there are also other philosophers who criticize Marquis’ view in order to prove that abortion is not immoral since the fetus has no right to live.
One of them is Peter K. McInerney, who wrote Does a Fetus Already Have a Future-Like-Ours? McInerney demonstrates the fact that fetuses have little or no relationship to their own future; therefore, the belief that “a fetus has a right to life” fails (Brill, 419). In addition, to support McInerney’s argument, H. Skott Brill’s The Future-Like-Ours Argument, Personal Identity and the Twinning Dilemma provides us ideas along with different perspectives on why McInerney’s theory is a strong account against Marquis’s point of view on abortion.
On the other hand, Marquis’s Brill’s Objection to the Future of Value Argument criticizes the conflicts between Brill’s premises in order to prove that his initial belief to abortion is consistently right. In this paper, I will present Brill’s and Marquis’s principal arguments and how they support their point of view. The Future-Like-ours Argument, Personal Identity and the Twinning Dilemma In the beginning of this article, H. Skott Brill summarizes the main idea of Why abortion is immoral by Don Marquis. The main idea is “if a fetus has a right to life then nearly all abortion are immoral” (Brill, 419).
However, it does not mean that stopping “the means necessary for the continuation of the fetus life” is wrong (419). Brill continues providing the support for McInerney’s “personal identity objection” and addressing the issue of a fetus having the right to life “leads to an inescapable dilemma involving twinning” (420). In the first section “The Future-Life-Ours Argument,” Brill focuses on expressing the details of Marquis’s antiabortion argument. Marquis believes that a fetus, along with adults and even infants, has the property and right to experience the valuable future. Therefore, depriving the life of a fetus is immoral.
In other words, if a fetus’ moral valuable future is counted as the same category as adult’s, then abortion is extremely immoral. Furthermore, “euthanasia can be acceptable” (421) if we could address that people who request the euthanasia have a little or no more valuable. Next, in “The Future-Like-Ours Argument and Personal Identity,” Brill starts to criticize Marquis’s antiabortion view. He does this by placing the opposing argument from McInerney that “the most widely considered relations in contemporary discussions of personal identity are those of memory, continuity; of character, and intention-to-action” (422).
Both Brill and McIneney acknowledge that the fetus cannot value his or her own life, nor has the valuable experiences by observing or responding emotionally. This is because the fetus has not developed brain and central nervous system, which means that he or she is non-sentient. On the other hands, they do not deny that the fetus and the future of valuable experience are somehow connected by “the biological continuity. ” However, it is not enough to prove that the fetus is an individual. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong considers the fetus “is the same organism the body into which it will or would develop” (423).
When the organism is not referred as a subject, which has either valuable experiences or enjoyment, it leads to the conclusion that the fetus has neither of them. However, there are two different stages of a fetus: the early-stage fetus and the late-stage fetus. The late-stage fetus has an individual identity, not a “personal identity” as a person, and it is considered as pre-sentient. To sum up this section, Brill addresses the alternative formulation that abortion can be acceptable in the early-stage fetus.
In “the Future-Like-Ours Argument and Twinning,” Brill consistently states that “the ovum and sperm clearly are distinct being”(425). Therefore, the concept is completely different to abortion and does not “deprive two beings [sperm and ova] of a future like ours” (425). This article emphasizes the Marquis’s “Future-Like-Ours” theory which entails that “zygotes what will not so divide probably will have future like ours and hence may not be killed; zygotes that will divide in this way will not have futures like ours and hence may be killed” (426).
McInerney also refutes this thought by stating that: “A zygote lacks everything that gives us moral standing—consciousness, interests, self-awareness, reason. And it lacks everything that essentially relates us to individuals in the past whom we consider to be ourselves: beliefs, desires, intentions, and other psychological states—not to mention specific ones” (427). Zygotes are not a subject, so they do not have moral standings. Zygotes are not considered as a subject; therefore, they have no identity. Zygotes have no moral status, so killing twin-zygotes or single zygote does not count as an immoral action.
Analyzing from both antiabortion arguments and McInerney’s refutation, Brill concludes that he believes in a zygote doctrine which is the main account for the intuition but not extreme to the “Future-Like-Ours. ” Zygotes, either single or twin, are identical and do “not have radically different moral standing[s]” (429). He informs people that before considering Marquis’s theory, they should wait for a better “personal identity” theory to come along or until they can experience it for themselves (430). Brill’s Objection to the Future of Value Argument
In opposing article, Marquis places McInerney’s ideas on the “personal identity objection” and “twinning objection” that Brill supports on The Future-Like-ours Argument, Personal Identity and the Twinning Dilemma article are ineffective. First, Marquis criticizes the “The Personal Identity Objection” principle by addressing that “the nonexistence of the relation of personal identity between a person and any fetus” does not mean that “the nonexistence of any identity relation between a person and the fetus that preceded her” (Marquis, 106).
If McInerney sees a nonsentient fetus is an organism, but not a subject with consciousness, then Marquis can refute by saying that the later individual, obviously having the future of valuable experiences, is considered as a subject with consciousness but not an organism. This important point proves that nonsentient fetuses and the later individual are completely different—they have distinct “biological organism. ” Therefore, this leads to the failure of the personal identity objection.
That is how Marquis argues against MacInerney’s theory that it is wrong. He underlines the fact that there are no differences between “individual identity” and “personal identity,” and “being a subject of consciousness is a phase in the history of a human organism just as being an adult is a phase in the history of a human organism” (107). No matter whether or not there are early stage fetuses, later-stage fetuses, or later subject of valued experiences, they have a “future-like-ours” which affirms that doing abortion to either one of them is immoral.
Marquis strongly believes that Brill’s argument does not have enough evidence to say that “the future of value argument implies that zygotes that develop into identical twin (or more, of course) lack of moral standing as persons” (109). He starts analyzing Brill’s twinning argument by setting up the explicit structures with three premises: “1. If the future of value argument were sound, then zygotes that twin would lack all moral status and zygotes that do not twin would have the right to life. 2. A zygote that twins does not have a moral status different from a zygote that does not twin.
3. Therefore, the future of value argument is not sound” (110). He believes Brill’s argument is odd, and there is conflict between the premises. The first premise supports that “the future of the value argument for the immorality of abortion” is unstable while the second one highlights that the “personal identity objection to the future of value argument” is efficient (111). Moreover, since Brill states in his argument that the zygote doctrine –zygotes, either single or twin, are identical – which is considered as the major account for the intuition is reasonable, the second premise of Brill is also unstable.
Therefore, either Brill cannot conclude that “if the future of value argument were sound, then zygotes that twin would lack all moral status and zygotes that do not twin would have the right to life” (110), or his zygote doctrine is implausible. Marquis once again confirms that the zygote doctrine does not exist by addressing an interesting example: If one person switches his brain with another person, supposedly; then he would adapt to the new body of that person because his intuitions concerning personal identity doesn’t change in the process.
It can be concluded that one person’s identity is related to the continuity of that person’s state. This would support Mclnemey’s and Brill’s theory of personal identity. However, consider the case if one person removes his brain and divides it to two identical parts called A and B; then presumably, there is no loss of memory in each part. A and B are then transplanted to two new bodies. According to the theory of personal identity endorsed by Mclenemey and Brill, the two new bodies with A and B are the same individual. However, there cannot be any person with the same personal identity.
Therefore, if one’s brain is divided into two identical parts with the same personal identity, then that person’s existence is ended (113). From Marquis’ notation, the zygote doctrine is not plausible. Twin zygotes should be considered as two different individuals, and have distinct moral standings as well. As a result, killing them is immoral. Strength and weakness: First of all, Brill’s The Future-Like-ours Argument, Personal Identity and the Twinning Dilemma clearly summaries both Don Marquis’s Why abortion is immoral and Peter K.
McInerney’s Does a Fetus Already Have a Future-Lie-Ours? arguments. It provides the audience with the knowledge of the previous arguments. It clearly explains what points Brill agrees since some of the audiences, like me, who have never read these articles. His argument is reasonable because Brill offers different views from McInerney and Sinnott-Armstrong on the significances of valuable nature to our life. By addressing the different philosophers’ thoughts, Brill’s support of abortion becomes more probable.
In my opinion, Brill gets the creditability from the readers since he offers the conclusion for abortion: abortion in the early-term fetuses has moral standing. However, abortion in the late-stage fetuses actually is immoral because he addresses that they have had “individual identity” which a person also has it. Like Brill’s article, in Brill’s Objection to the Future of Value Argument, Don Marquis clearly summarizes the main points from Brill’s articles. He successfully manages to emphasize the conflicts of Brill’s premises.
I definitely agree with the idea that twin have different identities. However, there is no strong conclusive argument. Marquis mainly focuses on proving the zygote doctrine is not relevant, but I do not completely feel the strong connection between the failures of the zygote doctrine with the antiabortion idea. I questioned whether he has ever placed himself in the rape victim’s situation and wondered if abortion is immoral? What is this woman suppose to do? For the majority of the time, Marquis stands on the future perspective to criticize that abortion is immoral.
For me, we live in the present and we cannot just predict the future, so how could we probably know that the fetus would experience “the future like ours? ” Conclusion: From my perspective, people should judge abortions based on different situations. In fact, abortion maintains both pros and cons. We know that abortion carries the unpredictable risks and health complications, especially with late-stage abortions. It can cause miscarriages and bring harm to women. Not only does it involve physical problems, abortion may also lead to life time guilt; since the woman might be haunted by the fact that she killed her own child.
It also increases irresponsible behaviors among young people who are careless to a potential life of baby, when they fail to use contraception. On the other hand, we should acknowledge many pros of abortion. As I mentioned before, abortion can help rape victims get out their horrible situation. Moreover, it may prevent women who are in dangerous health conditions such as heart disease or severe diabetes from suffering pain or risking their life in giving birth. I am a pro-choice, who believes that abortion in some cases could help people’s life and society.