In an earlier post I introduced the work of Wardenclyffe Academy formed by Peter Kinney and Logan Zeppieri, two young and creative analytic philosophers who want to help people understand the structure of foundational ideas through creative mind maps.
Their latest project is a four-part summary of an essay by Patrick Lee and Robert P. George: “What Is Wrong with Abortion,” in Contemporary Debates in Applied Ethics, ed. Andrew I. Cohen and Christopher Heath Wellman (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005): 13–26.
(Dr. George is McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and Director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University.
Dr. Lee is a professor of philosophy who holds the John N. and Jamie D. McAleer Chair in Bioethics and directs the Center for Bioethics at Franciscan University of Steubenville.)
The videos are below, followed by my brief summary to get you oriented.
We live in an age that has little time or patience for careful philosophical moral reasoning. I’d encourage readers to set aside some time—perhaps with a family member or friend—to watch these videos and to think through the logic of them. If you don’t get the thesis or an objection or their response to it, pause the video and go through it again and think about these things.
These videos take hundreds of hours to produce, but the end product can be viewed in just over a half hour. I promise that it will be worth your time.
Lee and George point out that many people who oppose abortion have not considered the philosophical foundations for the view that abortion is immoral.
The choice to have an abortion is objectively immoral.
Why? Because abortion kills a human being.
This human embryo is a whole (albeit immature) living member of the species homo sapiens. It is the same kind of entity as you or I, only at an earlier stage of development.
There are two main objections to this argument.
- The No-Person Objection. The embryo may be human, but it is not a person. Therefore abortion is not wrong since it does not involve the death of a person. (Dualist versions of this objection define “person” in terms of being or existence—the thing that is you. Evaluative versions say that “person” is a value judgment—someone who is valuable and therefore a bearer of rights.)
- The Not-Intentional Killing Objection. The embryo may have a right to life, but it does not have the right to use its mother’s body for life support. So abortion is not a case of intentional killing but rather a case of denying assistance or of eviction.
Lee and George carefully demonstrate what is wrong with both objections.
- Against the dualist form of the no-person objection, they show that at conception a person comes into being. Agains the evaluative form of the no-person objection, the physical organism is intrinsically valuable and a bearer of rights (specifically, a right to life).
- Against the non-intention killing objection, they argue that it is wrong for parents to choose an abortion (death) over the significantly lesser harms of carrying and caring for the child because parents have a special obligation to the child in virtue of their biological and social relations with the child.
Their thesis stands; the objections fail: abortion is unjust and therefore objectively immoral.
If you want to support seeing more videos like this, contribute to PayPal.Me/wardenclyffeacademy.