Talk:A Defense of Abortion

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Obligation...?[edit]

the duty to sustain the violinist objection[19]: despite the common intuition, one does have an obligation to support the violinist, and likewise the fetus.

Huh? It's just this sentence, and it doesn't explain how the person has an 'obligation' to. I don't think one does personally, and just saying 'one does' is not good enough for an encyclopedia LuGiADude (talk) 09:35, 28 September 2008 (UTC)

Criticism Section[edit]

This section is in need of citations. Much of what is said has absolutely no sources. For example, who makes these objections? There are statements asserted as fact such as the obligation comment before mine - is it a fact that you have an obligation to the violinist? Is it a fact that it is immoral to separate conjoined twins, is it a fact that our intuitions on unrealistic examples are irrelevant? If so, [citation needed].

Many of these objections, though decent objections, appear to be original research, and not criticism presented by other philosophers. I do not know how to put up the little box stating that the entire section is OR and needs citations or else I'd do it myself :( 63.139.220.200 (talk) 22:17, 10 November 2008 (UTC)

I believe these arguments are cited. The little numbers in brackets are in page hyperlinks to the notes section. For example "the conjoined twins objection" is supported by footnote #[16]. Perhaps these sections need to be reworded to make it clearer that these are just examples or arguments, not necessarily factual statements. Because the fatal separation of conjoined twins is immoral, so is abortion could instead be prefaced with Himma and Parks argue that...-Andrew c [talk] 23:20, 10 November 2008 (UTC)
Those footnotes weren't there when I made the objection. It seems someone has gone through and cited. However I don't think these are proper citations - the actual title of the work and real info is in the references section rather than detailed in the notes section.63.139.220.200 (talk) 14:31, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
See WP:CITESHORT. I think some of the footnotes are missing page numbers, but other than that, it seems like generally speaking the citations are following a specific style, they are consistent in their format. They could use a little clean up, but they are pretty darn good when compared to a lot of other articles. Feel free to work on addressing your concerns yourself if you are feeling bold enough. Wikipedia works best when editors see problems and work to address them. Community collaboration and effort are great!-Andrew c [talk] 15:46, 14 November 2008 (UTC)
Some of the responses to objectiions still have no reference whatsoever, and appear to be OR. E.g. the third response to the Responsibility Objection is totally unsourced. -User:theStorminMormon 17:41, 8 February 2010

I've never edited a WikiPedia page before, and I'm not going to invest the time right now to learn how to do it. However, I am currently working with this material and wish to add a citation for the Responsibility Objection. I don't think there's a clear origin of the objection since it was taken up by many people in response to Thomson's 'A Defense of Abortion'. Nonetheless, the Responsibility Objection" was coined by Harry S. Silverstein in 'On A Woman's "Responsibility" for the Fetus', published in Social Theory and Practice (1987:Spring), 13(1), p.103-119. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 99.249.102.77 (talk) 00:13, 1 February 2009 (UTC)

The criticism section only includes counter-arguments to one of the arguments. 75.118.170.35 (talk) 17:10, 24 July 2009 (UTC)

there was a pencil in the city of america —Preceding unsigned comment added by 222.127.241.234 (talk) 13:12, 20 October 2009 (UTC)

Tacit consent objection[edit]

Stating that Tacit consent cannot be inferred where contraception was used is similar to saying that Intoxication Manslaughter shouldn't be a crime because "I didn't think that I was THAT drunk." Use of contraception minimizes risk, but never completely removes it. Just as a person who "only had a few beers" may think that they are sober enough to drive, but in reality is still risking undesirable results. (Vehicular Homocide) —Preceding unsigned comment added by Whiterussian1974 (talkcontribs) 09:47, 5 November 2010 (UTC)

Is there a published version of this objection in the literature? –Tom Morris (talk) 15:15, 29 November 2010 (UTC)

what if a woman wants to have a baby, maybe in the future? hysterectomy wont be a solution —Preceding unsigned comment added by 201.239.154.82 (talk) 04:26, 6 April 2011 (UTC)

Besides Tom Morris' point that you have not provided a published version of this objection, Thompson actually addresses the claim of tacit consent in the argument. In the floating "person seeds" portion of the paper she substitutes the use of birth control with the use of protective screens that one would place on a window. When one opens a window with a screen protector on (analogous to protected sexual intercourse) one incurs a ~1-5% probability that a person seed will float through the protector (birth control failure) and implant in the house. Thompson argues in the article that it is permissible under these circumstances to remove the "person seed" because it has invaded one's property, even though the owner knew that there was a slight chance that an implantation would result when the owner opened the window. I haven't found an objection to this portion of the argument, but my knowledge on the subject is far from exhaustive and I'd love to read one! A Laughton (talk) 15:19, 24 July 2012 (UTC)

Formatting of the Criticism sections[edit]

The structure of the Criticism section and the following table needs to be redone. The article at one point mentions that a table of common objections is found below, and this sentence is immediately followed by a list of LESS common objections. I think that the table ought to follow immediately after the statement about the common objections--either remove the statement, put it at the end, or, the best way in my opinion, simply append the less common objections to the end of the currently existing table and take them out of the criticism section. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 99.255.195.165 (talk) 02:00, 25 October 2011 (UTC)

OR: Table of criticisms and responses[edit]

The section seems quite one-sided, heavily biased in favour of Thomson and her defenders. It basically consists of a broad argument against Thomson's analogy, followed by several objections to the criticism (without including arguments that Thomson's critics have responded with). Furthermore, many of these objections seem to constitute original research as they are not cited but should be. Some are highly tendentious as well. For example:

  • "If a thug stole both kidneys from a man and sold them the thug would have caused the man to be in need of a kidney. He would be responsible for that need in a very simple and clear cut manner. There is no need to imply or infer his intentions. If we caught the perpetrator and convicted him we would imprison him but we would not take a kidney from him against his will to sustain the victim's life. Even violent criminals retain their inalienable rights and bodily autonomy is one of these rights."
  • "Even if we accept that killing the fetus is wrong we are still left with the stand-off between the fetus' right not to be killed and the mothers right to her body. The mother should come first in the same way the person hooked up to the violinist can leave."
  • "There is no reason to believe that the underlying motives are different in the two cases ... the desires to protect ones bodily integrity and escape the foreign invader. There is no evidence on record to indicate that women would object to a safe extraction method that did not kill the fetus were one to become available and thus no justification for the assumption of maternal malice that is the foundation of the objection." (a simple tour of the Guttmacher Institute's website will reveal that most women have abortions for socioeconomic reasons, not to avoid the physical burdens of pregnancy and childbirth). [1]

Wikipedia articles, including this one, are not supposed to be a platform for defenders of legal abortion to publish their ideas. I think this section ought to be changed significantly (at very least removing uncited material), or simply removed. One criticism section is sufficient in my opinion. 174.2.68.142 (talk) 18:17, 1 September 2012 (UTC)

I found the table to be informative, and full of useful references. In my opinion, removing it would harm the article. Jander80 (talk) 04:11, 1 November 2012 (UTC)

It's been improved somewhat since I made my previous comment. I also agree that the sources that actually are referenced are useful and high-quality. It's still, however, full of uncited original research. 174.2.68.142 (talk) 23:48, 2 November 2012 (UTC)

This section is full of OR. In addition to the three examples cited, there are these:

  1. In the US there is the legal concept of an inalienable right. A person can not legally surrender one of these rights. For example, Surrogacy contracts that prohibit the surrogate mother from aborting are illegal. No court would enforce that clause of the contract and you would have no legal remedy if she then chose to do so because she is not permitted by law to surrender her bodily autonomy to anyone. Just as she cannot surrender her autonomy to you, she cannot surrender it to the fetus due to inalienability.
  2. In order to argue that one obligation can be inferred from another obligation the inferred obligation must be equal or lesser to the accepted obligation. Thus you could infer a financial obligation from a bodily obligation because a financial obligation is trivial in comparison to the violation of bodily autonomy but you cannot go the other way as that would be trading up.
  3. The objection does not invalidate the violinist argument because the violinist argument is not "letting die". Pulling the plug on someone is killing them because you are an active participant, not a passive observer to the actions of someone else. This is similar as to how throwing someone who cannot swim off of a boat is actively killing him/her, despite the fact that this person would die from his/her pre-existing inability to swim. The killing in both cases, however, is justifiable as a defense of your own bodily autonomy.
  4. Assume that the kidnap victim in the violinist argument is the second best violinist in the world and wishes the violinist were dead so that she could ascend to the top of her profession. Her primary intent in unplugging the violinist is now to kill him. If this objection held water the change of heart would deprive her of the right to separate herself from the violinist. But it does not. Her right to pull the plug derives from her ownership of her own body, not from the purity of her intentions.

Oddly, the first and second of these both include criticisms of themselves:

  • However, not everyone agrees with the current legal definition of inalienable rights, and using the current law or legal precedent to back up your position are examples of logical fallacies called argumentum ad populum, argument from tradition, argument from authority, and argument from common practice.
  • However, one could argue that a financial obligation is a much greater burden since being forced to pay child support for 18 years or more (in addition to all of those years of labor which are necessary in order to earn this money) is a much greater overall burden than being forced to endure a pregnancy for several months.

This is all blatantly OR. Frankly I'm surprised to find it on wikipedia. OckRaz talk 12:07, 24 April 2014 (UTC)

a more serious defect in the thought experiment[edit]

In the Criticism section, after the 2nd paragraph -- that is, after ". . . letting die objection)." -- add:

It has been argued that a more serious defect in the thought experiment lies in the fundamental implication that the unfairness we intuitively feel is ascribable only to the use of another person's body. In reality, that intuition is ascribable more to the degree of the kidnapped person's sacrifice than to the exact nature of it. Thus if it can be shown that in situations other than pregnancy, society expects equal or greater sacrifices for the sake of an person whose life is in danger, particularly if that person's helplessness is due to its young age, there will be no unfairness in expecting a woman to endure her pregnancy --

"The real consideration is the degree of the sacrifice. Compare a healthy and affluent woman who has a trouble-free pregnancy and as smooth as possible a delivery, and thereafter gives for adoption or employs a nanny, to a handicapped man living at bare subsistence level who is the only support and care-giver of a sick daughter for years and years. . . . Here a person who is not pregnant and is moreover male is morally and legally obliged to make a greater sacrifice on behalf of a child than is a pregnant woman." (http://www.NoTerminationWithoutRepresentation.org, "Personhood," Appendix 3)

Acyutananda (talk) 18:58, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Not done: "It has been argued ..." by you, in fact. And with wording like "In reality, ..." and "Thus if it can be shown that ..." you are taking a stand. The quotation here is a self-quote. I don't believe the page you link is a peer-reviewed publication. Sorry. --Stfg (talk) 21:34, 25 November 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for your reply. I'm little familiar with Wikipedia editing. For my future understanding, aside from your decision this time: 1) I've now checked https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:RS. It mentions "peer-reviewed publications" in a way that makes clear that that is not a necessary criterion. Is that page outdated? It says "Deciding which sources are appropriate depends on context." 2) "by you": will an edit request invariably be evaluated entirely or partly according to who makes the request, or may it sometimes be evaluated on merit alone? 3) "you are taking a stand": I suppose you mean that the Wikipedia itself should not take a stand. But in the Criticism section, each of the "critics" and "defenders" does take a stand. My edit request, describing the argument of a critic, begins "It is argued . . ." Doesn't this make it clear that what follows means "In reality (according to the argument).... Thus (according to the argument) if it can be shown that ..." -- ?Acyutananda (talk) 04:45, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Hi Acyutananda, thanks for you comments. My view has to be taken all together, not each point piecemeal. Essentially, it boils down to the fact that, having published your view in a publication that isn't peer reviewed, you are now asking for it to be represented here, and in a tone that seems to give it some authority. Its inclusion in that form would be premature, but now that your contribution and source are on this talk page, other editors will probably look at it, and may use it in the article if there is a consensus to do so.
On your point (3), yes, I mean that Wikipedia itself should not take a stand. Certainly the critics and defenders take stands, but we don't write as if we think them right or wrong. The text you offered presents your views in too authoritative a tone, and that makes it unsuitable for inclusion. Let's now see what other editors think about reporting your source. --Stfg (talk) 10:41, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Thanks. If there's still a chance, let me suggest this revised version:

It has been argued that a more serious defect in the thought experiment lies in its fundamental implication that the unfairness we intuitively feel is ascribable only to the use of another person's body. In reality, according to the argument, that intuition is ascribable more to the degree of the kidnapped person's sacrifice than to the exact nature of it; thus if it can be shown that in situations other than pregnancy, society expects equal or greater sacrifices for the sake of a helpless person whose life is in danger, particularly if that person's helplessness is due to its young age, there will be no unfairness in expecting a woman to endure her pregnancy:

"The real consideration is the degree of the sacrifice. Compare a healthy and affluent woman who has a trouble-free pregnancy and as smooth as possible a delivery, and thereafter gives for adoption or employs a nanny, to a handicapped man living at bare subsistence level who is the only support and care-giver of a sick daughter for years and years. . . . Here a person who is not pregnant and is moreover male is morally and legally obliged to make a greater sacrifice on behalf of a child than is a pregnant woman on behalf of her unborn child." (http://www.NoTerminationWithoutRepresentation.org, "Personhood," Appendix 3)Acyutananda (talk) 14:40, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

That looks a little better, although I would ditch the words "In reality". I'm sorry if I seem obstructive, but please understand that anyone can create a web site and expound a view, and that doesn't mean that it's right for Wikipedia to give it air time and a citation. You do have a conflict of interest, and I don't really see anything on the web site you've identified to help me understand who that organisation is, who it represents, and how reliable or authoritative are the views that it espouses. Actually, that "Appendix" looks a bit like a discussion forum, which would make it definitely an unreliable source. However, what I can do for you is to reopen your edit request and await another editor to give a second opinion. I have done that. Kind regards, --Stfg (talk) 15:55, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Thanks again. I don't see how there can be an issue of reliability when there's no reporting of facts going on, rather just philosophical argument. Is there such a thing as authority in philosophy, or just the faint possibility of insightfulness, acuity, etc. In philosophy there is indeed such a thing as prestige/respectability . . . again, I'm not familiar with all the Wikipedia's standards, or the reasons for them. Creating a website and expounding a view certainly doesn't mean that it's right for Wikipedia to give it air time (I do understand), but neither is the Wikipedia helpless to discriminate among views without applying prestige/respectability alone. Anyway, I'm happy with your solution.Acyutananda (talk) 16:48, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Reliability of sources, not of opinions. In philosophy, the facts are who says what and who gets listened to and written about and built upon. Reliable sources are ones that present these things in an accurate and balanced way, confirmed by peer review and often recognisable by being widely and frequently cited. In the sense that these are also the things that give "respectability", yes, we are guidied by "respectability" in that sense. How else should we protect ourselves from fringe theories -- just by opining about fringeness? On many issues, there are as many opinions as there are Wikipedians. A couple of Wikipedia guidelines that may help you understand how we think about such things are: Wikipedia:Identifying reliable sources and Wikipedia:Fringe theories. --Stfg (talk) 18:56, 26 November 2013 (UTC)

Thanks. "How else should we protect ourselves from fringe theories . . .?" Editors of the Encyclopedia Britannica used sometimes themselves to be learned persons in the field concerned. As I remember, some EB articles were by-lined with such a person's name. Such a person would sometimes be capable of recognizing any merit in a previously-unrecognized source.115.250.219.201 (talk) 08:35, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Indeed, but EB is not an "encyclopedia that anyone can edit". I'm noticing that this has been mostly a discussion about how Wikipedia decides what to include and what not. I think you can't hope for much mileage from challenging our ways of doing things (especially with a conflict of interest), and you'd make more progress if you move to addressing the question of why your source is notable and justifies inclusion according to Wikipedia's existing policies and guidelines. --Stfg (talk) 09:58, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

"I'm noticing that this has been mostly a discussion about how Wikipedia decides what to include and what not." For me that has been worth discussing in its own right. Sorry if I did not make clear that that was my main purpose in asking questions. The Wikipedia has a lot of impact on the world. Thank you for sparing some time. "I think you can't hope for much mileage . . ." No mileage in terms of my edit. Just mileage in terms of my understanding the Wikipedia. (I can't know whether or not there was anything useful in the discussion for the Wikipedia.)115.253.196.203 (talk) 11:51, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Thank you. I'm closing this now, without awaiting a second opinion, as I think it's clear that the source and opinion aren't sufficiently notable to justify coverage here. Thanks for taking the time and trouble to understand our approach. I hope I've been able to help with that. Kind regards, --Stfg (talk) 12:22, 27 November 2013 (UTC)

Thanks for the good communications.59.93.246.121 (talk) 01:59, 28 November 2013 (UTC)

Table: Is the article is about Thomson's article or Boonin's book?[edit]

Both Thomson's article and Boonin's book are titled 'A Defense of Abortion,' so I can understand how there could be some confusion. In the Table of criticisms and responses, each criticism is accompanied by Thomson's view AND Boonin's AND uncited OR. The OR is addressed above. I can't see why anyone would put Boonin's views about the criticisms here unless it was just an error based on the title. Mind you, I'm not saying that they shouldn't be included in wikipedia. They just don't belong here. They probably should be in this article: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophical_aspects_of_the_abortion_debate#The_bodily_rights_argument OckRaz talk 12:40, 24 April 2014 (UTC)