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The Violinist (Abortion Debate)

Discussion in 'General Debates' started by Koldo, Sep 11, 2021.

  1. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    Most of you are probably aware of the violinist analogy being used in favor of the pro-choice position.

    For those of you who don't know what I am talking about:

    "You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious violinist. A famous unconscious violinist. He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Society of Music Lovers has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the violinist's circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own. [If he is unplugged from you now, he will die; but] in nine months he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you.[4]"

    - source

    The first reaction to this is generally along the lines of: it would be really messed up to be forced into that position. Right?

    Why is the violinist argument noteworthy?
    The violinist argument doesn't care if the fetus is a person or not, it states that even if it were a person it would be perfectly alright to proceed with an abortion.

    Now here is my question: Should people, depending on the circumstances, be entitled to privileges (and even rights) in detriment to someone else's?

    Because that's what this is all about in a quite extreme level. Someone's life is being saved in exchange for someone else's autonomy.

    I will divide this OP in 3 distinct parts that are all connected:

    1) The Concept of Isonomy

    Isonomy is equality before the law. But we must distinguish between formal isonomy and material isonomy. Please, take a look at this image:

    [​IMG]

    I know almost none of you speak portuguese, meaning you have no idea what is written. But don't worry, focus on the drawing.

    At the left side you see what happens when everyone is treated the exact same way: everyone got one box but the person on the right still can't watch the game this way. This is an example of formal isonomy.

    At the right side you can see what happens when everyone is treated according to their needs: everyone gets to watch the game, but not everyone gets to be granted a box. This is an example of material isonomy.

    Formal isonomy is, at large, considered ineffective to handle social issues.

    2) The Law

    I don't know how it works in other countries but let me explain how it works here in Brazil.

    Whenever you make a claim before the court you are supposed to prove it or at least attempt to do so, right? It is also like this in here but there are exceptions such as when it comes down to consumer rights. Let me provide an actual example: Consider you have bought a TV and find out it is not working... not working at all. How do you prove it wasn't working ever since you have bought it, rather than as a result of your misuse? That would be quite a complex and/or expensive task. For this reason, the consumer is presumed to be telling the truth if it sounds believable, and it is the manufactorer that bears the burden of proof.

    Another example: If you are using public transportation, such as a bus, you are required by law, to get up if certain people, such as the elderly and pregnant women, want to take a seat and no other is readily available.

    Yet another example: Affirmative actions. There is a reserved quota in public universities for black and poor students.

    I think those examples suffice to show there are many cases where the laws already grants privileges to people under certain circumstances in detriment to someone else.

    3) Responsibility and Biting The Bullet

    There is a pretty huge problem in the violinist analogy in that the life threatening condition wasn't caused in anyway whatsoever by the person physically connected to him (or her).

    But what if that was the case? What if the kidney disease was caused by the other person in question? Would it change anything?

    To which I reply: Yes. If that way is the only way to achieve justice, of the restorative kind, I would most certainly support it.

    Think about it for a moment: Sending people, for a problem they have caused, to jail entails reducing their autonomy. Then what exactly is wrong with reducing someone's autonomy if by doing so the problem this person caused can actually be fixed?

    Not only that, the violinist is your son, or daughter. Don't parents have certain responsibilities over their children that other ordinary folks don't? Even if you don't agree with me in the former paragraph, why can't parents also have the responsibility, by law, to save their children's lives under certain circumstances, therefore resulting in a diminished autonomy?

    In sum:

    It is generally seem as perfectly alright to grant privileges when there is an underlying circumstance to justify doing so. This is necessary to prevent and/or fix social injustices. Banning abortion of a person is perfectly in line with that. (I am skipping the personhood debate here for the sake of the argument)

    Also:
    Please don't make arguments about personhood here. And no, I am not pro-life.

    EDIT:
    Okay, let me make one additional request. Let's debate about abortion on regular cases. Not rape cases, not when the life of the mother is in a major, out of ordinary, danger and so on. Let's debate about the rule rather than the exceptions, ok?
     
    #1 Koldo, Sep 11, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2021
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  2. syo

    syo Well-Known Member

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    First, kill all the rapists and wannabe-rapists. Then, ban abortion.
     
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  3. sun rise

    sun rise "This is the Hour of God"
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    The OP is seriously about personhood in the violinist part. But you don't want it discussed.

    OK, then I have nothing to say.
     
  4. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    The violinist argument is all about skipping the personhood debate and saying: Even if I were to concede the fetus is a person, there is this problem here which would still entail that abortion should be allowed.

    For all sakes and purposes, in this debate you are supposed to grant that the fetus is a person and proceed from there.
     
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  5. AlexanderG

    AlexanderG Active Member

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    I like this analogy because it illustrates the matter of personal bodily autonomy, which is generally the core consideration of pro-choice people. If someone could only survive by being attached to my body for a long period of time, in a way that puts my own health at risk, then do I get to have a say in the matter? Can I decline to have my body be used by someone else in this way? It seems like the clear answer is yes, and this applies to fetuses just as it would apply with fully grown humans.

    In my experience, anti-abortion responses to this argument focus on perceived moral blameworthiness of the mother for having sex. When I drill down to the root of the matter, it also often seems like the core "pro-life" consideration is reducing the rate at which young women have sex outside of marriage. Why else would pro-life people vehemently oppose birth control, for example, when birth control use is directly linked to much fewer unwanted pregnancies, and much fewer abortions? We see this same worry in other mammal species, where males want young fertile females to have controlled reproduction and mating as determined by the male hierarchy. Needless to say, I hope our morality can progress beyond the instinctual female-hoarding seen with goats, monkeys, deer, etc.
     
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  6. Shakeel

    Shakeel Well-Known Member

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    My first reaction was carrying a baby between the sizes of a pea and an infant is different from carrying an adult - who presumably cannot be carried at all.
     
  7. AlexanderG

    AlexanderG Active Member

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    Many women with preeclampsia, a common side effect of pregnancy, have to be on bedrest for months while pregnant or they are at severe risk of spontaneously dying. When my mother was pregnant with me, this was the case.
     
  8. Jeremiah Ames

    Jeremiah Ames Well-Known Member

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    Your OP was incredibly well stated and insightful.

    I will give you my simple thought:
    I don’t believe in abortion.
    So if I get pregnant, I will make every effort to NOT get an abortion.
    But I believe every individual is responsible for their own decisions. NOT ME.
    If my daughter, or another woman, gets pregnant, and chooses abortion, then that is their business, NOT MINE. If they ask me my opinion, that’s all I would say, nothing more. And I would definitely not offer my opinion if not asked.
     
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  9. The Hammer

    The Hammer Fork-Beard
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    More rapists will always be born. That's a ****ty solution.

    Sex education and Consent education is better.
     
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  10. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise
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    Finally! Someone who understands the concept of “minding your own business.”
    I have no real qualms with any person who takes a pro life stance. I only ever get into conflict with those who would make that the law of the land.
     
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  11. Jeremiah Ames

    Jeremiah Ames Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely.
    Mind YOUR OWN business people.
    A concept missing in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, isn’t it?
     
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  12. SomeRandom

    SomeRandom Still learning to be wise
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    Sad but true
     
  13. Daemon Sophic

    Daemon Sophic Avatar in flux

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    o_O I’m somewhat confident that @syo was making a sarcastic comment by paraphrasing the blindingly stupid comments made by the governor of Texas. :facepalm:



    Or at least I sure hope that was the gist of it.
     
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  14. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    @Koldo
    Why exactly did you bring isonomy into this debate? This isn't about giving social welfare to infants, it's about ignoring women's bodily autonomy and forcing a massive change in their lives onto them against their explicit wishes.

    The violinist argument specifically deals with this issue of bodily autonomy, and you've gone and muddled it with your conflation of forced pregnancy with child welfare.
     
  15. The Hammer

    The Hammer Fork-Beard
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    Some things WHOOSH over my head.
     
  16. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    Material isonomy is all about granting privileges to people because of their peculiar situations.

    Notice how the person in the left actually loses his box when there is material isonomy.

    Much in the same way, if everyone is granted full bodily autonomy, by law, we only achieve formal isonomy. Why? Because this entails that the fetus gets the short end of the rope, since their lives then depends on their mothers' not making full use of that autonomy to kick them out of their wombs too early. This condition is peculiar to the fetus, and it is reasonable to grant a privilege, which entails limiting someone else's autonomy, because of this.

    The following section of that post already exemplifies this by showing cases where the law works in detriment to someone to benefit someone else. If you think that material isonomy is limited to social welfare, you are mistaken.
     
    #16 Koldo, Sep 12, 2021
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
  17. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    You are introducing an issue that was not present in the violinist argument: You are presupposing the full personhood of the fetus, and its full entitlement to the exact same rights as the woman who sustains its life. That is exactly the kind of issue the violinist argument avoids with its setup, and exactly the kind of issue you explicitly wanted to avoid discussing in your OP.

    What you are falling victim here is exactly the kind of formal isonomy you are being so dismissive towards in your OP: You are entitling the fetus to the full gamut of bodily autonomy - and yet, at the same time, denying that exact bodily autonomy to every pregnant woman. It is only reasonable to grant that privilege if we already agree that a fetus is a full person with full rights, which is exactly the kind of discussion you didn't want to have.

    And now we know why you didn't want to have that discussion - because you wanted to assume that a fetus is a person with full autonomy and full personal rights to begin with. With this assumption, you have weighted this discussion towards the anti-abortionist side from the very start; this attempt is a one-sided debate, essentially.
     
  18. Unveiled Artist

    Unveiled Artist Shrugs. I tried.

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    (@We Never Know)

    Freedom to choose or rights supersede the potential of a life?

    Rights over life?

    Legally, I don't interfer with a woman's choice to abort. But do you support rights or a potential life of a child ... And why are rights more important than life?
     
  19. Koldo

    Koldo Incredible Member

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    I am not sure I understand you here.
    As I have said before on this topic: "The violinist argument is all about skipping the personhood debate and saying: Even if I were to concede the fetus is a person, there is this problem here which would still entail that abortion should be allowed.

    For all sakes and purposes, in this debate you are supposed to grant that the fetus is a person and proceed from there."

    You say I am falling victim of formal isonomy, where everyone gets the same set of privileges regardless of their peculiar situations, and then proceed to say I am granting distinct privileges to the fetus in detriment of pregnant woman's automomy.

    So which is one is it? It can't be both at the same time.

    I don't want to have a debate about personhood simply because it has nothing to do with the violinist argument, which is the focus of this topic. The violinist analogy uses two persons. This is why I find it so interesting.
     
  20. Kooky

    Kooky Freedom from Sanity

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    You misunderstand the violinist argument, then. It is not about granting full personhood and full human rights to fetuses, it is about not having that debate without presuming a conclusion to it. You, on the other hand, seem to use it as little more than a stepping stone to assume fetuses are full adult humans with all the rights and privileges that entails, including the same bodily autonomy that we deny pregnant women in this debate.

    I suppose I haven't been clear enough. What I am saying is that you are granting a fetus the exact same rights (not privileges, rights) as an adult person, and use those as a justification to take away the basic human rights of pregnant women. In essence, you are starting from a position of formal isonomy, and then use that as justification to reduce the rights of a specific class of people.

    Do you disagree with that assessment?

    So do you believe that the state should have the power to arbitrarily control fully adult people's bodies and deny them bodily autonomy, or not? Because that's what this debate is all about, essentially.
     
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