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Moral Life Issues 1


J Laney

on 24 April 2014

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Transcript of Moral Life Issues 1

Moral Issue 1: Abortion
Abortion is the termination of a pregnancy at any time between conception and safe delivery.
While abortion is legal in the United States, that does not mean it is moral. The morality of abortion - its rightness or wrongness - depends on whether or not it
kills a human person.

Abortion advocates raise numerous objections to the pro-life position. We will consider and respond to the top five.
In Western civilization, abortion was condemned by the Church as early as the 1st-century. Yet, it was not criminalized in medieval society until the 12th-century.
Abortion may be divided into two different types.
The object of induced abortion is the production of a dead human person. There are three methods of producing this outcome.
There have been almost 50 million abortions in the United States since 1973. Our country averages over one million abortions per year, or 3,000 per day.
Number One:
The first objection is that the criminalization of abortion is tan-tamount to imposing a religious viewpoint on another person.
In 2004, the Guttmacher Institute studied the reasons why women have abortions.
The study found that 48% of all abortions in the United States take place because of either incon-venience or cost. Less than .5% of abortions are performed for so-called "hard cases" of rape or incest.
Abortion has existed since ancient times. Its permissibility and acceptance varied from culture to culture.
The successes of the pro-life campaigns were short-lived. In 1973, the landmark Supreme Court case Roe v Wade legalized abortion in the United States.
Roe v Wade
Major Premise
The first premise is true and uncontroversial. It is based on the natural law principle that obliges us to preserve and promote human life and it is concretized in the civil law that judges murder as a punishable crime.
Minor Premise
2. Induced abortion is a deliberate act that kills innocent human persons.
3. Therefore, abortion is morally wrong.
Being vs Person
Human beings are biological entities who come into existence at conception; human persons are conscious entities exhibiting higher mental functions who come into existence sometime during infancy.
With this distinction in place, abortion advocates counterargue that the above minor premise is false: abortion only kills innocent human beings. Thus, it is not morally wrong.
The view that personhood is defined by consciousness is known as dualism.
The arguments for the wrong of abortion and substantial identity are not religious arguments. The pro-life position proves its case on the basis of rational argument alone; not by any appeal to religious authority.
The third objection is that a developing zygote is no more a human person than an acorn is an oak tree. This analogy is supposed to show that human persons do not come into existence at conception.
The problem with this objection is that it assumes the unborn person is a part of the woman’s body. He or she is not. The life that begins at fertilization is a distinct organism with active, internally-directed development.
American lawmakers began restricting abortion in the early 19th-century. There were criminal penalties for performing and procuring abortions.
Roe v Wade
An acorn is an oak tree at the earliest stage of its development; a zygote is a human person at the earliest stage of his or her devel-opment. There is no substantial difference between a zygote
and a fully developed
human person.
The fourth objection is that the possibilities of twinning and fusion in the first week of life prove that zygotes are not persons. Persons cannot divide into two, or fuse into one.
However, since Aquinas did not have access to modern, scientific instruments he was incorrect in thinking that the developing zygote was not moving.
Had he seen a developing zygote under a microscope, he would have held that the rational soul was present from conception.
The wrong of abortion can be demonstrated through rational argument using deductive logic. It consists of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.

A serious objection to dualism is that it justifies infanticide. Consider the fact that there is no measurable difference between the mental functions of a one-week old newborn and those of a thirty-nine-week old fetus.
Their Own Words
As shocking as this might sound, many reputable philosophers are willing to accept this outcome.
These rare occurrences do not refute the personhood of the zygote. Rather, they show that sometimes zygotes are capable of asexual reproduction.
The fifth objection is that even the great St. Thomas Aquinas held that the rational soul did not come to inform or animate the material body until 40-80 days after fertilization. Thus, Aquinas tacitly espoused some form of dualism.
Aquinas’ mistake on this point was attributable to bad science; not bad philosophy. He was philosophically correct in holding that the rational soul primarily manifests its presence through knowledge and movement.
Spontaneous abortion is synonymous with miscarriage. It affects roughly 15% of all pregnancies. Its causes are unknown, but may be due to chromosomal or other abnormalities.
Induced abortion is the deliberate and direct killing of a human person at any point from conception to birth.
Medically induced abortion uses pills to kill the human person at the earliest stages of pregnancy. The most common are Plan B and RU-486.
Plan B prevents the blastocyst from implanting in the wall of the uterus.
RU-486 causes the implanted blastocyst or embryo to be expelled.
Surgical abortion uses surgery to kill the human person during the later stages of pregnancy. It can be done in three ways.
D & C
Dilation and curettage involves opening the cervix and using a spoon-shaped tool to scrape the uterine wall, thus detaching the developing person from the mother.
D & E
Dilation and evacuation involves opening the cervix and using a suction device to remove the developing person from the womb. It can also be done late term (partial-birth abortion).
Hysterectomy involves removing the entire uterus with the developing person still inside. It is rarely done, except in emergencies.
Induction uses labor-inducing drugs to cause a woman to expel the developing human person. It can be done with saline solutions or other drugs.
Pro-life activist Gianna Jessen survived a failed saline abortion attempt in 1977.
Roughly 90% of all abortions take place during the first trimester of pregnancy (the first three months).
US History
US History
In the 1960s, some states began permitting abortion during the first trimester of pregnancy. Pro-life campaigns successfully worked to overturn these laws.
The decision was the result of a lawsuit brought about by Norma McCorvey, aka "Jane Roe," who tried to procure an abortion in Texas in 1969 and was prohibited.
Roe v Wade
The State was successfully defended by district attorney Henry Wade. Roe's lawyers appealed, and the case eventually went to the Supreme Court.
Roe v Wade
Basing its decision on the right to privacy, the Supreme Court legal-ized abortion for the "health" of the mother all the way to the end of the third trimester.
Roe v Wade
The legality of abortion hinged
on the question of whether or not the unborn were persons.
The "health" of the mother was expansively defined to include any factor - physical, psychological, or emotional - related to well-being.
The Supreme Court said it could not answer this question.
"We need not resolve the difficult question of when life begins . . . the judiciary at this point in the development of man's knowledge, is not in a position to speculate as to the answer."
The Supreme Court would only say that if the unborn were persons, then their right to life would be protected under the law.
"If this suggestion of personhood is established, the appellant's case, of course, collapses, for the fetus' right to life would then be guaranteed specifically by the Amendment."
Ignorant as to the status of the unborn, and in the absence of any absolute, prohibitive legal precedence, the Supreme Court granted women the right to abort their pregnancies.
Legal ≠ Moral
1. Deliberate acts that kill innocent human persons are morally wrong.
The second premise is true, albeit controversial. Although it is an indisputable fact that induced abortion is a deliberate act, many people dispute the fact that abortion kills innocent human persons.
The conclusion of the syllogism follows necessarily from the major and minor premises. Since both premises are true, the conclusion is likewise true. The only way to refute the conclusion is to prove that one or both of the premises are false.
As the major premise of the above argument is undeniably true, abortion advocates attempt to refute the minor premise.
To show that abortion does not kill innocent human persons, abortion advocates draw a distinction between human beings and human persons.
Although the dualist view of personhood has been around since ancient times, its recent popularity among abortion advocates is traceable to Rene Descartes.
If dualism is correct, then it follows that the newborn does not have a right to life.
"Human babies are not born self-aware or capable of grasping their lives over time. They are not persons. Hence their lives would seem to be no more worthy of protection than the life of a fetus."
~ Peter Singer
Refuting Dualism
Dualism overemphasizes human rationality to the exclusion of human animality. The argument from sub-stantial identity refutes dualism.
If dualism is correct, then it follows that the newborn does not have a right to life.
Major Premise
1. Sensation is a bodily act performed by a bodily entity.
Minor Premise
2. The same entity that senses with the body understands with the mind.
3. Therefore, the entity that understands is a bodily entity.
Moreover, only human persons possess intrinsic value and rights.
The argument from substantial identity shows that there is no distin-guishing the human being from the human person. A person is a distinct, embodied subject with a natural capacity for reason and choice.
If dualism is correct, then it follows that the newborn does not have a right to life.
As embodied subjects, persons possess intrinsic value and rights. They come into existence at conception.
If dualism is correct, then it follows that the newborn does not have a right to life.
Imposing Religion
Number Two:
The second objection is that the out-lawing of abortion would deny women the absolute dominion that they have over their own bodies.
Bodily Rights
Number Three:
Acorns & Oak Trees
Number Four:
Twinning & Fusion
When the zygote splits, or fuses, a new person comes into existence or ceases to exist respectively.
Number Five:
The lack of movement led him to think the zygote was not ensouled until quickening, when the mother was able to feel the baby moving.
Having proved that abortion is morally wrong, the question of how to proceed remains. I want to suggest a twofold strategy for abolishing abortion.
On the one hand, abortion must be made illegal. The government has to hold those who perform and procure abortions criminally liable. We must vote for pro-life political candidates who want to end abortion in the United States.
On the other hand, the factors
that contribute to abortion must be eliminated. We need to work for greater economic justice so as to reduce poverty. We must also pro-mote chastity and marriage as indispensable social goods.
Full transcript