Alexander Pruss wrote a brilliant article in response to Thomson’s “violinist” case. In summary, Thomson cleverly shows us that abortion is analogous to being asked to hook yourself up to a machine in order to keep someone else alive, which, would be a significant sacrifice of some of your critical freedoms. Pruss replies that it is more analogous to a draft for a war. So, Pruss and Thomson both seem to recognize that it encroaches on one’s freedoms but the argument comes down to whether it is justified or not. Pruss presupposes that a draft is just therefore he concludes that denying a woman’s right to an abortion is just. Pruss states the main problem here, “I think the draft case underlines that Thomson’s cases underestimate the degree to which we can be legitimately morally required to make significant sacrifices to save the lives of others”(Pruss).
It seems totally reasonable to disagree with Pruss and instead argue that Thomson didn’t underestimate the degree to which we can morally limit freedoms and perhaps it is the case that she is, in fact, against the draft (which would be a consistent belief). It seems that logically we only have 4 scenarios to conclude from this, two being consistent and two being inconsistent and even sexist.
1)If we accept the draft but do not deny women the right to an abortion then we have a case of sexism against men. Men would be making a more than equivalent sacrifice by offering our lives to a war effort. So, it would seem reasonable that women could deny themselves the freedom of abortion.
2)If we deny the draft and deny women the right to an abortion then we are accepting one of two things: abortion and the draft are at different “degrees” as Pruss would say or we are being sexist toward women.
3)If we accept the draft and deny women the right to an abortion then we have a consistent scenario.
4)If we deny the draft and let women have an abortion we have a consistent scenario.
One can then create a flow chart of sorts (presuming you understand how conditionals work logically) to see what would be the case. I think the draft is moral. So to have a morally consistent scenario it seems to be necessary to deny women a right to an abortion. Are there more options that I have overlooked?
Feel free to comment, please refrain from emotional responses. I am trying to stimulate a logical ethics discussion not push my opinion so please refrain from pushing yours (provide reasons for your opinion).
Work Cited: Alexander R. Pruss. ”The Draft”. Alexanderpruss.blogspot.com. web. 1/12/2014
a link to his article below
I think the draft case underlines that Thomson’s cases underestimate the degree to which we can be legitimately morally required to make significant sacrifices to save the lives of others.