Given that there are so many abortion-related threads going on at the moment, and given my inclination not to engage in discussion on the Halappanavar case until all the facts are in, I thought it might be interesting to devote a thread to a more abstract discussion of the ethics of abortion, with a particular focus on The Famous Violinist thought experiment. Some background:
The philosopher Judith Jarvis Thomson came up with this one in 1971 ("A Defense of Abortion"). (A Defense of Abortion - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )
Here's the quick Wiki-summary:
Here's the full text of "A Defense of Abortion": Judith Jarvis Thomson: A Defense of AbortionThe "famous violinist" thought experiment asks a person to consider the ethics of a scenario where they wake to find themselves in a hospital serving as life support to a famous violinist. The person is asked to consider that they were not consulted prior to this arrangement, but that if they detach from the violinist he will die. Thomson wrote, "If you stay in the hospital bed, connected to the violinist, he will be totally cured in nine months. You are unlikely to suffer harm. No one else can save him. Do you have an obligation to stay connected?" ( Violinist (thought experiment) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia )
The Wikipedia page on A Defense of Abortion in particular is a good place to start in terms of objections and responses to the paper.
(Note that what makes this sort of argument especially interesting is that it works even if you assume that the foetus is a person with the full range of rights we would normally think people ought to have)
NB: Please try to stay on topic, which in this case is the merits or flaws of the above thought experiment or ethical arguments surrounding abortion more generally. There are loads of threads already dedicated to various aspects of the Halappanavar case itself.
So, is Thomson's argument convincing and if not, why not?