Philosophy, Abortion (Thomson)
1. Explain how the analogy of the acorn and the oak tree illustrates Thomson’s belief about an unborn human’s “personhood.” What does this tell us about her granting the point? Do you agree?
2. What does Thomson intend the “violin player” analogy to support? Do you think the similarities between that example and pregnancy are strong enough to support her conclusion?
3. What does Thomson say about the “extreme view” and cases in which the life of the mother is at stake? Howe does the example of the infant and the exploding house illustrate her point here?
4. Explain the point(s) of either Thomson’s analogy of the two boys and the chocolates or Henry Fonda’s “cool hand.” Does the analogy make a good case for her conclusions?
5. According to Thomson, in what does the right to life actually consist? Do you agree, or should it include more or less than she says it does? Does she believe that an abortion can violate this right?
6. What is the point of the “open window” and/or “pollen” analogies? Do you think they provide a sufficient foundation for the point she is trying to make?
7. Does Thomson believe that having a right to an abortion means it is always morally right when a woman has one?
8. According to Thomson, is the right to an abortion the same thing as a right to secure the death of the unborn child? Explain.
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