Noonan and Warrens Views on Abortion

1996 Words8 Pages
John Noonan and Mary Ann Warren believe the most fundamental question involved in the long history of abortion is. How do you determine the humanity of a being? They both use their views on the answer to argue their positions on abortion. Jane English differs from many pro- and anti-abortion advocates in insisting that the central question is not whether the fetus is a person. She argues that even if the fetus is a person, it doesn't simply follow that abortion is wrong. But she goes on to argue that even if the fetus is not a person, it doesn't follow that abortion is simply acceptable in all circumstances. She points out a characteristic feature of the abortion debate: foes of abortion point to supposed sufficient conditions of personhood that fetuses have; advocates of abortion rights point to supposed necessary conditions of personhood that fetuses lack. "These both presuppose that the concept of a person can be captured in a strait jacket of necessary and sufficient conditions." English claims, “person” is a cluster concept. What is typical of persons includes biological factors, psychological factors, rationality factors, social factors and legal factors. In each category, we get features that, though typical, may not be central by themselves. These lists of typical features are just that; they don't function as a checklist that we can use to assess the personhood of the fetus. “There are necessary conditions: for example being alive; you can't be a person if you aren't alive. And there are sufficient conditions: for example, being a U.S. Senator. Anyone who is a U.S. Senator is certainly a person.” But such conditions are not useful in sorting out problem cases. And the fetus, she says "is in the penumbra region where our concept of a person is not so simple." She maintains, therefore, that there is no conclusive way to settle the question of the status

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