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> Utilitarianism and Kantianism applied to abortion., Arguments for evaluating the issue of abortion through these ethical theories.
Emilie Murmurs
post Nov 15, 2009, 11:49 PM
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I am taking an Honors Philosophy course in Ethics. Half of the students in my class are not doing very well; and they decided to start a study group. I am doing perfectly fine in the class myself; however, someone requested that I be present. I have a long midday break and I was curious to see what others had to say about the subjects, because I think exchanging ideas and brainstorming never hurt anybody. Nonetheless, we didnít get much studying done, as the entire thing consisted of children bickering about how dumb they thought the course was.
Thus, I thought I might have some better luck at an actual discussion here.

The discussion topic was abortion, and how we might evaluate it from a Utilitarian and a Kantian approach.

The best I can come up with off the top of my head is that the Kantian need for duty would call for a mother to protect her child at all costs, in addition to the duty to uphold the sanctity of human life. As far as Utilitarianism goes, If you are aiming for the greatest amount of happiness, than you donít want a child to be born into a life that will be full of suffering; and ultimately if the procedure is done early enough, than the child has not yet developed a capacity to feel pain, while meanwhile the mother is very much alive, and might very well suffer as a result of having the child.


(This is not a trick question. Yes, I am well aware of the debate regarding if the theories ever actually solve anything, and how nothing can ever really be settled or resolved. Yet, that is not the point of the query)

What does everyone think? and can they come up with any decent pro-choice arguments for both theories?
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post Nov 16, 2009, 08:42 AM
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My two cents: If we lived in a society where morality wasn't so based on irrational principles, then abortion would not be such a object of heated argument, from either perspective. The greatest happines for the greatest amount of people on one hand; the physical and emotional well being of the individual making this difficult decision a top goverment priority on the other hand. There is an argument for both Kantianism and Utilitarianism, and they seem to co-exist side by side, in that utopian society. But, it seems to me, things are not that simple, are they?
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Rick
post Nov 16, 2009, 04:30 PM
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The issue is not whether abortion is advisable in a particular case. The issue is whether a person has the right to choose abortion.

Given that a person would not consider abortion in the common case of intentional reproduction, one must assume that there are special circumstances to cause a pregnancy to be unwanted, and it is therefore reasonable to assume that these circumstances were out of the person's control, hence the need to consider the option of abortion.

That is, the very fact that abortion is being considered in a particular case indicates that there are special circumstances such as rape, incest, economic hardship, deformity of the fetus, etc. If abortion is chosen by an informed rational actor, it means that on balance a difficult decision ahs been made by the one who is closest to and most affected by the outcome of the reproductive decision. The question then becomes "who is in the best position to decide?"

If it is argued that the ones affected (mother, foetus, husband, lover, etc.) are not the best ones to influence the decision, then it remains to be shown that there is some better agency in the decision. Certainly not the state, for in that way lies totalitarianism.

This "argument" is not in your preferred utilitarian vs. Kantian framework, but I am not a proponent of either of those philosophies.
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Hey Hey
post Nov 17, 2009, 03:25 PM
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QUOTE(Rick @ Nov 17, 2009, 12:30 AM) *

The issue is not whether abortion is advisable in a particular case. The issue is whether a person has the right to choose abortion.

Given that a person would not consider abortion in the common case of intentional reproduction, one must assume that there are special circumstances to cause a pregnancy to be unwanted, and it is therefore reasonable to assume that these circumstances were out of the person's control, hence the need to consider the option of abortion.

That is, the very fact that abortion is being considered in a particular case indicates that there are special circumstances such as rape, incest, economic hardship, deformity of the fetus, etc. If abortion is chosen by an informed rational actor, it means that on balance a difficult decision ahs been made by the one who is closest to and most affected by the outcome of the reproductive decision. The question then becomes "who is in the best position to decide?"

If it is argued that the ones affected (mother, foetus, husband, lover, etc.) are not the best ones to influence the decision, then it remains to be shown that there is some better agency in the decision. Certainly not the state, for in that way lies totalitarianism.

This "argument" is not in your preferred utilitarian vs. Kantian framework, but I am not a proponent of either of those philosophies.
Rick, whenever the state legislates or intervenes it does not generate totalitarianism, otherwise we would have to suffer a lawless society, amongst other things.
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Rick
post Nov 17, 2009, 04:21 PM
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Was just indicating a trend: "... in that way lies totalitatianism." The libertarians say that every law constrains someone's liberty, but that doesn't mean I favor anarchy.

There are totalitarian examples of what to avoid, including Fascist Europe in the mid-20th century and China today. In China, they can (and do) force women to have abortions, which is morally equivalent to preventing them from having them.

Looks like Emilie is another one post wonder.
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Emilie Murmurs
post Nov 17, 2009, 08:33 PM
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QUOTE(Rick @ Nov 17, 2009, 07:21 PM) *

Looks like Emilie is another one post wonder.


First off look at my post time; if it is in fact correct, then I didn't realize there was a requirement to respond in less than 48 hours! This is not to sound pretentious, and I do have work to do, while I wasn't posting for the heck of it, it was not going to take top priority over anything else.

Anyways, I dislike the notion that the core of the matter lies in that, it either always being permissbale or it's always wrong. I am very big on context. The greatest happiness principle aside, I don't necessarily believe it is passbale in all cases, what I do think though, is that everyone should be allowed the choice, no matter what.

I believe one of the main troubles with Kant's theories is that they're outdated. I think the basis of Kant's ideas have some value overall, but his application, plus his insistence that matters are either black or white, with no gray area, really does not sit well with me. I feel that sooner or later consequences have to come into play, regardless of one's capability to foresee all of them, they ought to be taken into consideration.

Utilitarianism is more useful, but it's not without it's fault. I am mostly put off by the suggestion that a person MUST sacrifice their own interest if it's for the greater good.

In addition, when people are arguing in favor of abortion, they frequently apply it to instances of rape and the like. However, this gives me pause as well, for I also looked up statistics at some point, and .3% all the abortions performed were rape cases, making the norm something else. Therefore I don't think it is wise to form an argument based on something that is in the minority. Not to mention there are women who have abortions for less harsh reasons, such as still being in school, done having kids/have too many kids, are in a bad marriage, being too young, being poor, not being emotionally ready, not being married/in a relationship, accidental pregnancies (they do happen), or just genuinely not wanting children, and I don't appreciate how the debates often disregard them entirely, nor am I implying they be enabled to use abortion as their method of birth control either.

The bottom line is if we start what people to with their bodies, than we are well on our way to communism, and working towards nearly being oppressive and tyrannical.
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Rick
post Nov 18, 2009, 11:53 AM
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There's no post response time requirement. There exists a pattern of intriguing posts from people who seem to have lost their bookmark or something. I'm glad to see you have persistence.

I'm glad you are pro-choice. Most of the people I know are. I don't know anyone who argues in favor of abortion. Like war, it should always be the last choice.

The anti-totalinarianism argument suffices, but the strongest argument I know in favor of the pro-choice view is this:

If abortion is outlawed, then rape becomes a viable reproductive strategy for men. Most rapists are never caught or punished. Evolution will then favor violence: the most able rapists will become preferentially represented in the gene pool. That's not the kind of society/genome that I would like to see us become.
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Hey Hey
post Nov 18, 2009, 02:12 PM
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QUOTE(Rick @ Nov 18, 2009, 07:53 PM) *

There's no post response time requirement. There exists a pattern of intriguing posts from people who seem to have lost their bookmark or something. I'm glad to see you have persistence.

I'm glad you are pro-choice. Most of the people I know are. I don't know anyone who argues in favor of abortion. Like war, it should always be the last choice.

The anti-totalinarianism argument suffices, but the strongest argument I know in favor of the pro-choice view is this:

If abortion is outlawed, then rape becomes a viable reproductive strategy for men. Most rapists are never caught or punished. Evolution will then favor violence: the most able rapists will become preferentially represented in the gene pool. That's not the kind of society/genome that I would like to see us become.
Rick, have you assumed that most rapees choose abortion, or is it based on factual statistics? (And there is an extra-US world out there when considering statistics).
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post Nov 18, 2009, 02:36 PM
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QUOTE(Rick @ Nov 18, 2009, 11:53 AM) *

...the strongest argument I know in favor of the pro-choice view is...

I would have thought it'd be because no one has the right to tell a woman what to do with their own body.
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post Nov 18, 2009, 02:47 PM
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QUOTE(code buttons @ Nov 18, 2009, 10:36 PM) *

QUOTE(Rick @ Nov 18, 2009, 11:53 AM) *

...the strongest argument I know in favor of the pro-choice view is...

I would have thought it'd be because no one has the right to tell a woman what to do with their own body.
Unfortunately the laws are already well established that can do just that. It is no better for the free choice of men in many matters either.
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Rick
post Nov 18, 2009, 02:59 PM
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QUOTE(Hey Hey @ Nov 18, 2009, 02:12 PM) *
Rick, have you assumed that most rapees choose abortion, or is it based on factual statistics? (And there is an extra-US world out there when considering statistics).

One source says 70% of impregnated rape victims choose not to have abortions, so clearly, there is some viability of rape as a male reproductive strategy, but that may change as people become less superstitious in the future (we hope). With lower gun crime in Britain, perhaps knife crime (preferred rapist weapon) is higher?

I only have personal knowledge of two rapes (one from the perpetrator, one from a victim) and they were both knife crimes.
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post Nov 18, 2009, 03:38 PM
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QUOTE(Rick @ Nov 18, 2009, 10:59 PM) *

QUOTE(Hey Hey @ Nov 18, 2009, 02:12 PM) *
Rick, have you assumed that most rapees choose abortion, or is it based on factual statistics? (And there is an extra-US world out there when considering statistics).

One source says 70% of impregnated rape victims choose not to have abortions, so clearly, there is some viability of rape as a male reproductive strategy, but that may change as people become less superstitious in the future (we hope). With lower gun crime in Britain, perhaps knife crime (preferred rapist weapon) is higher?

I only have personal knowledge of two rapes (one from the perpetrator, one from a victim) and they were both knife crimes.
Actually in the UK, whilst there has a been a steady rise in gun crime over the years, there has recently been a dramatic increase in knife crime, though the government tell us that this has been dealt with with various measures (including making it illegal to carry a knife in public, even concealed).

You point about the weapon of choice for rapists makes sense.

I wonder if that survey had any other information, such as the religious beliefs of the victims, or the perpetrator's relationship (non, or known to, friend(?), or relative etc) for example?
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ju1i4j3456hannan
post Jun 28, 2018, 01:32 PM
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yes
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ju1i4j3456hannan
post Jun 28, 2018, 01:32 PM
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happy to see
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