Coursework On Abortion

There are several courses offered each year in philosophy that should be of interest to undergraduates who have strong interests outside philosophy. In addition to the introductory courses (Philosophy 301, 304, 305, and 310) and the basic sequence in the history of philosophy (Philosophy 329K and 329L), the courses listed below are of particular relevance to students who are interested in the indicated areas.

  • Business: Philosophy 312, 322, and 325L
  • Communications: Philosophy 311, 312, 313, and 332
  • Computer science: Philosophy 313K, 344K, 358, 363, and 363L
  • Law: Philosophy 311, 312, 313, 318, 325K, 342, and 347
  • Linguistics: Philosophy 313K, 332, 344K, and 358
  • Literature: Philosophy 346, 348, 349, 356, 361K, and 366K
  • Mathematics:Philosophy 313K, 344K, 344M, and 358
  • Natural sciences: Philosophy 322, 363, and 363
  • Premedicine and predentistry: Philosophy 312, 318, 322, 325M, and 363
  • Social sciences: Philosophy 322, 363, and 363L

The information in parentheses after a course number is the Texas Common Course Numbering (TCCN) designation. Only TCCN designations that are exact semester-hour equivalents of University courses are listed here. Additional TCCN information is given in Appendix A.

Lower-Division Courses

PHL 301 (TCCN: PHIL 1301). Introduction to Philosophy.

Primarily for lower-division students. A survey of principal topics and problems in areas such as ethics, theory of knowledge, and philosophy of religion. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester. Philosophy 301 and 610QA may not both be counted.

PHL 301K (TCCN: PHIL 2316). Ancient Philosophy.

Same as Classical Civilization 304C (Topic 6). Primarily for lower-division students. An introduction to the philosophical achievements of the ancient world, concentrating on Plato and Aristotle. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Classical Civilization 304C (Topic: Ancient Philosophy), 304C (Topic 6), Philosophy 301K.

PHL 301L. Early Modern Philosophy.

Primarily for lower-division students. An introduction to the philosophical achievements of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, concentrating on such figures as Descartes, Hume, and Kant. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester.

PHL 302. World Philosophy.

Primarily for lower-division students. Basic issues of philosophy in Western and non-Western traditions, such as the nature of philosophy, its relation to religion and science, the self, knowledge, and virtue. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester. Asian Studies 301M (Topic 7: World Philosophy) and Philosophy 302 may not both be counted.

PHL 302C. Ethics and Enlightenment.

Primarily for lower-division students. A study of non-Western ethics, especially in Hindu and Buddhist traditions. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester.

PHL 303. Human Nature.

Primarily for lower-division students. Theories of human nature, such as those of Plato, Christianity, Marxism, and existentialism. Modern psychological and biological theories are included, as the interplay of nature and nurture in determining human conduct is explored. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester.

PHL 303M. Mind and Body.

Primarily for lower-division students. Introduction to philosophical issues about the nature of mind and its relation to body: What is mind? Do people have free will? How does psychology relate to neuroscience? Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester.

PHL 304. Contemporary Moral Problems.

Primarily for lower-division students. Philosophical examination of selected moral problems arising out of contemporary society and culture. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester.

PHL 305 (TCCN: PHIL 2321). Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion.

Same as Core Texts and Ideas 310 (Topic 3) and Religious Studies 305. A critical examination of various conceptions of God and of the relationship of the human and the divine. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 310 (Topic: Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion), 310 (Topic 3), Philosophy 305, Religious Studies 305.

PHL 306. Philosophical Thinkers.

Primarily for lower-division students. An introduction to major areas of philosophy through the study of selected philosophical thinkers. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

PHL 310. Knowledge and Reality.

An introduction to basic issues in epistemology and metaphysics. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester. Philosophy 310 and 610QA may not both be counted.

PHL 610Q. Problems of Knowledge and Valuation.

Restricted to students in the Plan II Honors Program. Methods and aims of selected sciences, arts, and philosophy in the attainment of knowledge and in providing the basis for valuation. Three lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for two semesters. Philosophy 301 and 610QA may not both be counted; Philosophy 310 and 610QA may not both be counted; Philosophy 610QB and 318 may not both be counted. Prerequisite: For 610QA, admission to the Plan II Honors Program; for 610QB, Philosophy 610QA.

PHL 311. Argument.

Argument as a kind of discourse: deductive and inductive arguments; principles of reasoning; fallacies; practical applications. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester.

PHL 312 (TCCN: PHIL 2303). Introduction to Logic.

Logical structure of sentences and arguments; elementary symbolic methods; applications. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester. May not be counted by students with prior credit for Philosophy 313, 313K, 313Q, or 344K.

PHL 313. Introductory Symbolic Logic.

Introduction to symbolic logic (through first-order predicate logic); interpretations; formal proofs, consistency; some practical applications. Three lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Computer Science 313H, 313K, Philosophy 313, 313K, 313Q.

PHL 313K. Logic, Sets, and Functions.

Sets, relations, functions, sentential and predicate logic, proof techniques, algorithms, and elementary metatheory. Mathematically oriented. Three lecture hours and one laboratory hour a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Computer Science 313H, 313K, Philosophy 313, 313K, 313Q.

PHL 313Q. Logic and Scientific Reasoning.

Introduction to formal proofs, semantics, quantifiers, inductive methods, decision theory, and scientific reasoning. Three lecture hours and one laboratory hour a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Computer Science 313H, 313K, Philosophy 313, 313K, 313Q. Philosophy 313Q and Tutorial Course 310 may not both be counted. Prerequisite: Admission to the Plan II Honors Program.

PHL 315F. Philosophy and Film.

Formulation, analysis, and criticism of philosophical ideas in selected films. Three lecture hours a week for one semester.

PHL 315L. Philosophy and Literature.

Formulation, analysis, and criticism of philosophical ideas in selected works of literature. Three lecture hours a week for one semester.

PHL 316K. Science and Philosophy.

Introduction to scientific method, including discussion of the nature and goals of science. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester. May not be counted by students with credit for Philosophy 363.

PHL 317K. Introduction to the Philosophy of the Arts.

Classic issues in the philosophy of art and beauty, illustrated from the fine arts and contemporary media: literature, drama, music, painting, film, and television. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester.

PHL 318 (TCCN: PHIL 2306). Introduction to Ethics.

Study of basic principles of the moral life, with critical examination of traditional and contemporary theories of the nature of goodness, happiness, duty, and freedom. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester. Philosophy 610QB and 318 may not both be counted.

PHL 318K (TCCN: PHIL 2307). Introduction to Political Philosophy.

Views of major political philosophers on humanity, nature, and society; discussions of contemporary political ideologies. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester.

PHL 119S, 219S, 319S, 419S, 519S, 619S, 719S, 819S, 919S. Topics in Philosophy.

This course is used to record credit the student earns while enrolled at another institution in a program administered by the University's Study Abroad Office. Credit is recorded as assigned by the study abroad adviser in the Department of Philosophy. University credit is awarded for work in an exchange program; it may be counted as coursework taken in residence. Transfer credit is awarded for work in an affiliated studies program. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Upper-Division Courses

PHL 321K. Theory of Knowledge.

Systematic and detailed study of major issues in the theory of knowledge, such as the distinction between knowledge and belief, the criteria of knowledge, the justification of knowledge-claims, and perception. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Six semester hours of coursework in philosophy.

PHL 322. Science and the Modern World.

The historical development and impact of scientific ideas through the modern period to the present. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester.

PHL 322K. History of Ethics.

Survey of ethical theories from ancient times through the nineteenth century. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Prerequisite: At least three semester hours of coursework in philosophy.

PHL 323K. Metaphysics.

Problems of substance, change, categories of being, mind, body, space and time, approached either systematically or historically. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Six semester hours of coursework in philosophy.

PHL 323M. Philosophy of Mind.

Problems concerning the nature of mind and mental phenomena: the relation between mind and body, knowledge of other minds, the computational model of mind, mental causation, intentionality, and consciousness. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Six semester hours of coursework in philosophy.

PHL 325C. Environmental Ethics.

Moral issues concerning the relation of human beings to the environment, including biodiversity, resource depletion, and animal rights. Three lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester.

PHL 325K. Ethical Theories.

Major traditional and contemporary ethical theories discussed and critically examined. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Six semester hours of coursework in philosophy.

PHL 325L. Business, Ethics, and Public Policy.

Issues in ethics and politics that are relevant to the organization of business and industry and the distribution of power in society; topics include the role of industry; concepts of profit, property, and moral responsibility. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester.

PHL 325M. Medicine, Ethics, and Society.

Moral, legal, religious, and political implications of developments in medicine; topics include abortion, euthanasia, sterilization, psychosurgery, genetic engineering; concepts of health, cure, insanity, and death. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester.

PHL 327. Contemporary Philosophy.

Explores the currents of contemporary thought by focusing on philosophical areas, movements, or trends. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Varies with the topic.

Topic 1: Perception. Examines philosophical puzzles about perceptual experiences of the world. Philosophy 327 (Topic 1) and 375M (Topic: Perception) may not both be counted. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and three semester hours of coursework in philosophy.
Topic 2: Contemporary Christian Philosophy. Study of recent work in philosophy written from a Christian point of view or that examines philosophical questions that arise within the framework of the Christian faith. Only one of the following may be counted: Philosophy 327 (Topic: Contemporary Christian Philosophy), 327 (Topic 2), Religious Studies 355E (Topic: Contemporary Christian Philosophy). Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.
Topic 4: Interpretation and Meaning. Only one of the following may be counted: Philosophy 327 (Topic: Interpretation and Meaning), 327 (Topic 4), 375M (Topic: Interpretation and Meaning). Additional prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

PHL 328. Nineteenth-Century Philosophy.

Major figures in nineteenth-century European philosophy, including Hegel, Schopenhauer, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Mill. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

PHL 329K. History of Ancient Philosophy.

Same as Classical Civilization 348 (Topic 4: History of Ancient Philosophy). Development of Western philosophy from the pre-Socratics to the early Christian era; emphasis on Plato and Aristotle. Three lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Classical Civilization 342 (Topic: History of Ancient Philosophy), 348 (Topic 4), Philosophy 329K. Prerequisite: Six semester hours of coursework in philosophy.

PHL 329L. Early Modern Philosophy: Descartes to Kant.

Three lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Six semester hours of coursework in philosophy.

PHL 329M. Philosophical Classics.

Intensive study of one or two important philosophers or philosophical works. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and at least three semester hours of coursework in philosophy.

Topic 1: Kant's Critique of Pure Reason. An intensive study of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, focusing especially on his "Copernican revolution," his theories of categories and concepts, and his rejection of metaphysics.

PHL 129S, 229S, 429S, 529S, 629S, 729S, 829S, 929S. Topics in Philosophy.

This course is used to record credit the student earns while enrolled at another institution in a program administered by the University's Study Abroad Office. Credit is recorded as assigned by the study abroad adviser in the Department of Philosophy. University credit is awarded for work in an exchange program; it may be counted as coursework taken in residence. Transfer credit is awarded for work in an affiliated studies program. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

PHL 329U. Perspectives on Science and Mathematics.

An examination of five notable episodes in the history of science: Galileo's conflict with the Catholic Church, Isaac Newton's formulation of the laws of motion, Charles Darwin's proposal of the theory of evolution by natural selection, the development of the atomic bomb, and the discovery of the double helix structure of DNA. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: History 329U, 366N (Topic: Perspectives on Science and Mathematics), Philosophy 329U. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and consent of instructor.

PHL 332. Philosophy of Language.

Contemporary theories of meaning and linguistic structure, and their relationships to epistemology, metaphysics, and ethics. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Six semester hours of coursework in philosophy.

PHL 334K. Modern Thinkers.

Critical study of the philosophical implications of the works of selected modern thinkers from the nineteenth century to the present. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing; additional prerequisites may vary with the topic.

Topic 1: Modernity and Postmodernity. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester.

PHL 342. Political Philosophy.

Critical examination of leading theories of the state, including analysis of such concepts as sovereignty, obligation, rights, and freedom. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Topic 1: Natural Law Theory. Same as Government 335M (Topic 12). Study of the fundamental moral principles that are built into the design of human nature and lie at the roots of conscience. Only one of the following may be counted: Government 335M (Topic: Natural Law Theory), 335M (Topic 12), and Philosophy 342 (Topic: Natural Law Theory), Philosophy 342 (Topic 1). Additional prerequisite: Upper-division standing and six semester hours of lower-division coursework in government.

PHL 344K. Intermediate Symbolic Logic.

Same as Mathematics 344K. A second-semester course in symbolic logic: formal syntax and semantics, basic metatheory (soundness, completeness, compactness, and Loewenheim-Skolem theorems), and further topics in logic. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Philosophy 313, 313K, or 313Q.

PHL 344M. Philosophy of Mathematics.

Philosophical issues concerning mathematics and its foundations, such as the correlation of mathematics to logic, mathematical truth, and mathematical knowledge. Three lecture hours a week for one semester.

PHL 346. Aesthetics.

Study of selected topics in the philosophy of art; may be restricted to one or several specific art forms or media: literature, painting, music, film, television, or theatre. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

PHL 346K. Aesthetics.

The nature and purpose of art and the aesthetic experience. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Philosophy 346 and 346K may not both be counted.

PHL 347. Philosophy of Law.

The significance and function of law in political and ethical contexts; comparison of common and statutory to scientific and moral law; readings from among Plato, Kant, Hegel, Bentham, Austin, Hart, Dworkin, Feinberg, and others. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester.

PHL 348. Asian Philosophy.

Comparative and historical studies in the philosophical and religious traditions of the East. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Varies with the topic.

Topic 1: Argumentation East and West. Traces parallel developments in the theory of argumentation through major figures and texts in both ancient Greek and Indian traditions, probing differences as well as convergences. Philosophy 348 (Topic: Argumentation East and West) and 348 (Topic 1) may not both be counted. Additional prerequisite: Upper-division standing.
Topic 2: Indian Philosophies. Same as Asian Studies 372 (Topic 2: Indian Philosophies) and Religious Studies 341 (Topic 1: Indian Philosophies).

PHL 349. History of Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy.

Philosophical thought from Augustine through Cusanus and Vico, with emphasis on its cultural bearing. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Three semester hours of coursework in philosophy.

PHL 354. Philosophy in Context.

Focuses on philosophical thinkers and works with attention to their historical or religious context. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

Topic 2: History of Christian Philosophy. Same as Core Texts and Ideas 335 (Topic 2). Examines the history of Christian philosophy through classic Christian thought, concerning what can be known and how people should live. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 335 (Topic: History of Christian Philosophy), 335 (Topic 2), Philosophy 354 (Topic: History of Christian Philosophy), 354 (Topic 2). Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.
Topic 5: Origins of Liberalism. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 335 (Topic: Origins of Liberalism), European Studies 346 (Topic: Origins of Liberalism), Philosophy 354 (Topic: Origins of Liberalism), Philosophy 354 (Topic 5).
Topic 7: Spinoza and Modernity. Same as Core Texts and Ideas 321F, European Studies 346 (Topic 21), History 362P, Jewish Studies 364 (Topic 9), and Religious Studies 357 (Topic 8). Introduction to the core of Spinoza's writings and the diverse reactions they have elicited. Examines Spinoza's refusal of mind-body dualism, as well as a transcendent god or ideal as a way of understanding Spinoza's concepts and ideas. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Core Texts and Ideas 335 (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), 321F, European Studies 346 (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), 346 (Topic 21), 347 (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), History 362G (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), 362P, Jewish Studies 364 (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), 364 (Topic 9), Philosophy 334K (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), 354 (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), 354 (Topic 7), Religious Studies 357 (Topic: Spinoza and Modernity), 357 (Topic 8). Additional prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

PHL 356. Philosophy of Religion.

Meaning and function of religion; religious belief and its validity; religious values in the modern world. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary.

Topic 2: Yoga as Philosophy and Practice. Same as Religious Studies 341G. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Only one of the following may be counted: Asian Studies 372 (Topic: Yoga as Philosophy and Practice), Philosophy 356 (Topic: Yoga as Philosophy and Practice), 356 (Topic 2), Religious Studies 341G. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

PHL 358. Philosophical Logic.

Issues in philosophical logic and its applications, such as theories of meaning, logical paradoxes, epistemic logic, deontic logic, modal logic, existence, and identity. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Prerequisite: Philosophy 313, 313K, or 313Q.

PHL 361K. Philosophy in Literature.

Formulation, analysis, and criticism of philosophical ideas in selected literary works. Three lecture hours a week for one semester.

PHL 363. Scientific Method.

History, exposition, and analysis of such fundamental concepts in the natural and social sciences as explanation, prediction, discovery, confirmation, laws, hypotheses, theories. Three lecture hours a week for one semester.

PHL 363L. Topics in Philosophy of Science.

Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. Additional hours may be required for some topics. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Varies with the topic.

Topic 1: The Philosophy of Biology. Philosophy 363L (Topic 1) and 363L (Topic: Philosophy of Biology) may not both be counted.
Topic 2: The Outer Limits of Reason. Examines fundamental questions that appear to transcend the capacities of reason such as semantic paradoxes, theseus' ship, vagueness, infinities, computational intractability, quantum mechanics, fine-tuning arguments, and why mathematics applies to the physical world. Three lecture hours a week for one semester. Philosophy 363L (Topic: Outer Limits of Reason) and 363L (Topic 2) may not both be counted.
Topic 4: The Philosophy of Geometry. Philosophy 363L (Topic: Philosophy of Geometry) and 363L (Topic 4) may not both be counted. Prerequisite: Upper-division standing.

PHL 365. Selected Problems in Philosophy.

The equivalent of three lecture hours a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Varies with the topic.

Topic 2: Introduction to Cognitive Science. Same as Cognitive Science 360 (Topic 1: Introduction to Cognitive Science) and Linguistics 373 (Topic 7: Introduction to Cognitive Science).
Topic 5: Contemporary American Social Theory. Same as Government 335M (Topic 9). Only one of the following may be counted: Government 335M (Topic: Social Theory), 335M (Topic 9), Philosophy 365 (Topic 5), Sociology 352M (Topic 8). Additional prerequisite: Upper-division standing and six semester hours of lower-division coursework in government.
Topic 6: Process Philosophy and Pragmatism. Philosophy 365 (Topic: Process Philosophy and Pragmatism) and 365 (Topic 6) may not both be counted. Additional prerequisite: Upper-division standing.
Topic 7: Times and Events. Examines the way times and events are represented in thought and spoken language. Only one of the following may be counted: Cognitive Science 360 (Topic: Times and Events), Linguistics 350 (Topic: Times and Events), Philosophy 365 (Topic: Times and Events), 365 (Topic 7). Prerequisite: Upper-division standing and three semester hours of philosophy coursework.

PHL 366K. Existentialism.

Existentialism and its relationship to literature, psychoanalysis, and Marxism. Three lecture hours or two lecture hours and one laboratory/discussion hour a week for one semester. Philosophy 366K and Religious Studies 356E may not both be counted.

PHL 371H. Philosophy Honors.

Close study of major works of philosophy. Three lecture hours and one discussion hour a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Six semester hours of coursework in philosophy and a University grade point average of at least 3.50.

PHL 375M. Major Seminar.

Three lecture hours a week for one semester. May be repeated for credit when the topics vary. Prerequisite: Nine semester hours of coursework in philosophy.

Topic 1: Philosophy and Feminism. Only one of the following may be counted: Philosophy 327 (Topic: Philosophy and Feminism), 375M (Topic: Philosophy and Feminism), 375M (Topic 1), Women's and Gender Studies 345 (Topic: Philosophy and Feminism).

PHL 679H. Honors Tutorial Course.

Supervised individual reading for one semester, followed by research and writing to produce a substantial paper on a special topic in philosophy, to be completed during the second semester. Conference course for two semesters. Prerequisite: For 679HA, admission to the Philosophy Honors Program; for 679HB, Philosophy 679HA.

PHL 379K. Conference Course.

Intensive tutorial study of selected problems in philosophy. Conference course. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Nine semester hours of upper-division coursework in philosophy and consent of instructor and the undergraduate adviser in philosophy.

More coursework: 1 - A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I - J | K - L | M | N - O | P - S | T | U - Y

Abortion from an ethical point of view

Abortion From An Ethical Point Of View


" Describe and evaluate any two contrasting theoretical approaches to the moral debate of abortion."
* * *
It is widely accepted that the fact of abortion has been a subject of conversation and controversy for many decades. Since the proportion of people who accept abortion as a ‘normal’ procedure is equal to the proportion of those who think of abortion as a ‘crime’, through time a lot of measurements have been taken against abortion but concerning it’s defense as well. Although the fact of abortion has been examined through it’s scientific and religious side, in this assignment we will try and examine abortion from an ethical point of view.
The best way for someone to refer to abortion on an ethical basis would probably be through the description and evaluation of the subject based on two of the most known theoretical approaches: those of Kant’s and of Utilitarianism (Act and Rule).
Beginning with the approach of Utilitarianism, we must say that Utilitarianism, is concerned basically with pleasure and with pain. Therefore someone should be concerned with the amounts of pleasure and pain in situations where abortion is permitted as contrasted with the amounts of pleasure and pain where abortion is forbidden.
It might be suggested that the main consideration would be the interests of the fetus: not only can its future life be expectedly happy (or at least having a balance of happiness over suffering) it might also be the case that the abortion itself is painful, particularly if it occurs later in the pregnancy. However this focus on the fetus is unwarranted since any suffering involved in the abortion itself can be avoided by simply aborting the pregnancy sooner (before the fetus has even developed the capability of suffering), or with painless techniques. The direct suffering of the fetus can therefore be no argument against abortion generally, only the bad practice of it.
A more significant consideration exists if we hypothesize that the future life of the fetus involves a probable balance of happiness over suffering for the fetus. This would seem to be a definite point against abortion, though not, a dominant one.
The second party that we should consider are the parents and other family, and guardians if the alternative to abortion is adoption. According to some studies, having a baby appears to decrease the happiness in a relationship - even in those cases where the pregnancy is desired. But again, this need not be considered too much, it is not a dominant consideration.
As is the case with many issues in a utilitarian system, the rightness or wrongness of the act in question turns mainly not on the effects of the act on the agent, nor on the beings directly affected by the act, but on the less direct effects on the community at large. That means that the issue of abortion actually becomes one of the desirability of increasing or decreasing the population.
Given that there must be some population size that can be regarded as the "perfect" size, if we are allowed to place it this way for a society, it is clear that Utility will ban new births above this amount while below this population size Utility will prescribe reproduction.
So the utilitarian, who suggests that the future happiness of the child, combined with the estimated value of the effects on others, is such that Utility opposes abortion, must admit that this would imply that Utility prescribes an increase in population and that this would apply to anyone capable of producing a child. So Utility is generally against abortion only when it is generally for raising the population. In terms of utility, the actual act of abortion is not a particularly significant one.
A brief mention must be made of why it is that the relative effects on the community at large are dominant in this issue, and why the other considerations are not. It must be remembered that the raising of a child in a modern developed country has a very large cost in financial terms, which is highly significant. It is well known that the amount required to raise one child in a developed country could probably raise many more in a poorer part of the world. So if increasing the human population is the aim, this can be achieved more effectively elsewhere. However in these days of increasing environmental pressure and terrible inequality, increasing the human population is not what we should be aiming for. Of course at this point someone could ask him/herself "If everybody became a utilitarian, would the human race become extinct?" The answer would be in this case no, because, if everybody were utilitarian, these problems would not exist to the same degree.
In utilitarian terms, a general prescription either for or against reproduction is very hard to justify because each case would have its own relevant and specific features. However, we come to the assumption that reproduction is the cheapest method of recruiting moral agents, even granting that it has a high cost in time and effort and of course this would require empirical support.
Someone should not of course forget to refer to the distinctions within the Utilitarian approach in Act and Rule Utilitarianism. Rule utilitarianism is a formulation utilitarianism, which maintains that a behavioural code or rule is morally right if the consequences of adopting that rule are more favourable than unfavourable to everyone.
The above is contrasted with act utilitarianism, which maintains that the morality of each action is to be determined in relation to the favourable or unfavourable consequences that emerge from that action. The principle of rule-utilitarianism is a test only for the morality of moral rules, such as stealing is wrong and not a test for particular actions. Adopting a rule against theft clearly has more favourable consequences than unfavourable consequences for everyone. The same is true for moral rules against lying or murdering. Rule-utilitarianism, then, offers a method for judging behaviour.
More general speaking, act utilitarianism regards each individual action as the fundamental unit of moral evaluation while rule utilitarianism applies the principle of utility not to individuals actions but to general rules under which those actions fall.
Continuing with Kant’s approach, even though we know that he does not addresses the issue of abortion as topic directly, we could search into his second critique of his discussions and that is about the moral agent and how we should treat people. By this formulation Kant is arguing that human beings are not simply of subjective importance to them, but are of objective importance to all others as ends in themselves. Therefore, in making moral decisions we should act in a way that recognizes the objective importance of every other individual.
The above could probably be used for a pro-life position. The pro-life arguments, which are against abortion, are the following:
1. It is a murder to kill an innocent human being
2. A human fetus is an innocent human being
3. Therefore the conclusion is that it is a crime to kill a human fetus
On the other side, we have perhaps a stronger argument and a more philosophical which is that although the fetus has some future rights to self-freedom, if it was the case that the child would be severely handicapped to the point where self-consciousness would be impossible or their freedom to take control of their being was nil, then perhaps Kant would argue pro-choice. Pro-choice suggests that a fetus is not a human being until it:
· Becomes conscious (sentient)
· Is viable
· Is born
Although pro-life suggests that a fetus is just an earlier stage of a human being, knowing the scientific stages of a pregnancy where from 0-18 weeks the fetus is in a vegetative state and furthermore is not a moral patient since it does not have self-consciousness, abortion can be justified. Like Singer suggests: "If ‘human’ is taken as equivalent to ‘person’ which asserts that the fetus is a human being is clearly false because one cannot plausibly argue that a fetus is either rational or self-conscious. If on the other hand, ‘human’ is taken to mean no more than 'member of the species Homo sapiens’, then the conservative defence of the life of the fetus is based on a characteristic lacking moral significance. My suggestion, then, is that we accord the life of a fetus no greater value than the life of a nonhuman animal at a similar level of rationality, self-consciousness, awareness, capacity to feel, etc. Since no fetus is a person, no fetus has the same claim to life as a person.
The applied ethical issue of abortion involves a consideration of the reasons for or against terminating the life of a fetus. Much has been written on the issue of abortion both in the popular press and in the philosophical literature. The debate focuses on two distinct issues: (1) whether a human fetus has a right to life, and, if so, (2) whether the rights of the mother ever override the fetus's right. Often the issues are discussed independently of each other.
Discussion of the first issue, regarding a fetus's right to life, usually draws on the concept of moral personhood. A being is a morally significant person when it is a rights holder, and we are under moral obligation to that being. For example, I am a morally significant person and am entitled to the right to life, which others have a moral duty to acknowledge. The problem for moral theorists is to establish a criterion that explains why I am a morally significant person, and a fly is not a morally significant person.
Some religious philosophers suggest that we are morally significant persons at the moment of conception. Non-religious criteria include, when we first take the human form (in the fourth month of pregnancy), when our organs become differentiated, and when the fetus can survive outside the womb (both around the seventh month of pregnancy). Some philosophers suggest more general criteria such as when a being is self-aware or rational. These criteria are not exhibited until an infant is one or two years old.
The reason of personhood selected has important implications on the morality of abortion. If personhood is conferred on a being at the moment of conception, then, all things considered, aborting a fetus is immoral. On the other hand, if we select a reason such as self-awareness, then, all things considered, aborting a fetus is not immoral. The challenge is in providing reasons in support of one reason over another.
But even if we all could agree on a reason of personhood, such as the moment of conception, the abortion debate would not be over. After that point, questions arise about whether the mother's right of self-determination overrides the rights of the fetus. It is the mother's body that is affected by the pregnancy, and it is her emotional and social life that will be drastically altered for at least the next nine months and beyond. These factors carry at least some weight. Other potentially overriding factors complicate the rights of the fetus, such as whether the pregnancy resulted from rape, or contraception failure.
Whatever the decision of a woman will be, it is a fact that she should be aware of all the elements mentioned above. I personally believe what John Locke implies in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) that "it is part of the worship of God, not to kill another man, not to procure abortion, not to expose their children, not Bibliography

:
1. Sterba, J.P.(ed) (1998) – Ethics: The Big Questions Blackwell
2. Singer P. (ed) (1991) – Ethics Blackwell
REFERENCES:
1. Almond P. (ed) (1995) – Introducing Applied Ethics Blackwell
2. Smart J.J.C & Williams B. (1973) – Utilitarianism: For and Against Cambridge


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