When does a person learn right from wrong? Is someone that knows right from wrong, different from someone who does not? These questions bring up the topic of the difference between a “Human” and a “Person”. A human would be of human genetics and have a certain build. On the other hand, a human can also not be a person at certain points in the stage of life.
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If you can distinguish right from wrong, and are able to make decisions based on your moral beliefs in particular, you are considered a person. These statements have a direct moral effect, on the thesis of whether abortion is right or wrong.
So who is one that is actually considered a “person”? People have multiple different answers to this question, as it is a broad term that is viewed differently by each individual. A person, as stated earlier, is someone who knows the difference between right and wrong. For example, a grown adult is a person, a baby is not. But, a baby is still considered a human. An adult is described as a human” and a person, due to the attributes and judgements that they have developed over the course of their life thus far. An adult posseses human genetics and has their own personality, as well as moral reasoning to distinguish whether something is right or wrong. Have you ever wondered why someone has said, “my dog is considered to be apart of my family”? This can be proven true when reflecting back to the definition of a person. In particular, a trained dog is technically considered to be a “person”, since they are able to determine right from wrong when taught. Remember, we must take in consideration that they do not have the genetic makeup of a human. This is one way to show how we can clearly compare the two different words “human” and “person”.
As stated by Mary Anne Warren, to be considered a “person”, one would have to understand the meaning of life. In other words, they would have to posses the abilities to communicate, not always in the act of talking, but able to interact and make judgement calls based on whether something is right or wrong. She also states that to be considered a person, one should be able to create reasoning on certain topics, if not all, that they run into. They should have some type of logical response/reasoning to their actions and decisions on anything they encounter. For example, if you were to sit a baby at the edge of a sidewalk, will they know not to wander into the street due to the danger of being struck by a vehicle? A baby is not fully aware of how dangerous their surroundings are at that point in their life. This makes them a human, but since they are unable to make these particular “right from wrong” decisions that a person would know to do, Mary Anne Warren refers to babies not as people, but as “humans”.
Mary Anne Warren most certainly supports abortion because of the reasons listed above. A ZEF (zygote, embryo, fetus) is not considered a person, as it cannot do any of the tasks that she believes makes up the characteristics of a “person”. The ZEF can not make their own moral decisons, or know anything about what it means to make something right or wrong to do, and therefore is considered just a human, and not a person.
Don Marquis has a different view and explanation on the whole topic of abortion. He believes that abortion is morally wrong, and has reasons to back this up. Marquis states that a fetus is a potential person, even though is it not one yet, and killing that fetus will deprive it from a future of being able to become a person. The fetus will eventually be able to come to moral senses in the future, and taking this chance away is morally wrong to do in his eyes. A fetus is a “like me” thing, for comparison, that will grow up to have the same opportunities as us. He also states that killing is killing no matter what stage of “life” you are in. The fetus will eventually become a person, in time coming.
Marquis believes that there are alternatives that a person can take to prevent porenial abortions from ever having to occur, mainly by preveting pregnancy. Medication, such as birth control, and abstinence to deprive a potential sperm and egg union are just two options he showcases in his theory. These options prevent the creation of a fetus all together, and therefore prevent any potential abortions that may occur due to these pregnancies.
My definition of a “person” does relate to the discussions we had in class, to a certain point. I do believe that to be considered a person, one should be able to determine right from wrong. But at the same time, I also believe that a baby can be comsidered a person because they are in the learning stage (even a ZEF). To me, someone that is not considered a person includes things like a dog, aliens, or anything that cannot converse with me directly as a human. No one starts off knowing how to do anything in life, or having any moral beliefs for that matter, which proves to show we are all a learning species. A baby learns from his or her parents, who will teach them how to live life based off their moral beliefs on the way “life” works. Just because a human is in the learning stage, does not take away their right to be considered a person. Even though the baby does not know right from wrong, they are a “potential person”, as stated by Warren. Therefore, they should not be counted out in terms of abortion. In the end, they will have the same opportunity as any other living person does.
According to my definition of a “person”, I went along to support that a fetus isnt able to distinguish right from wrong, but they are learning to do so and therefore I can relate my definition to Marquis theory, in which abortion is unacceptable. This is because I am presenting the fact that everyone starts out at the same place, in the womb. Why pick only certain humans, when in the stage of a fetus, to have the potential to be a person one day? This is picking and choosing, which everyone is taught to be wrong. If you are a person, you have the ability to determine right from wrong. Therefore, in this context, you should know that the act of picking and choosing is wrong.
As we know, the act of performing an abortion would be done by a medical expert. This makes them an intelligent “person” who knows enough to determine what is right or wrong. They should know that the fetus is not a person yet as of this second, but in months to come, that situation will evolve into a human that has become a person. Something does not have to be considered a “person” to justify whether its death is whats best or not, and this is how my definition of a person contradicts Mary Anne Warrens argument in favor of abortion.
My view on this whole topic is very on the fence, but in the end my definition of a person puts me on the side to support Marquis theory against abortion. As stated above, I believe a person is one who can distinguish right from wrong, but potential persons should not be counted out and not considered people at all. I believe that abortion is there for a reason and should be used, only accordingly. For instance, if a couple is not ready for a baby, for any reason, they should have the ability and option to get rid of the baby if they wish to do so. One should take responsibility and get everything taken care of, if needed, in the initial stages of pregnancy. You do not want the fetus to start forming, then it becomes more of a potential person as time continues, then chosing the abortion route later on would make the process much worse.
People have abortions for their own reasons, a big reason being because they want to have their own life situated and established before bringing on another. A popular saying, “babies having babies”, outlines a huge problem in society today. People are having babies and not realizing the responsibility, to only end up struggling. When someone is congratulated on a pregnancy, they are celebrating new life and the happiness of the creation of a person to be. This goes to show that we all, as humans and people, know an unborn baby is just as deserving at a chance of life as we are.
Let’s take it back to my original definition of a “person”, as you should be aware and conscious of the things going on, and a person doesnt excludle potentials who will one day posess these qualities. If you are aware of your own situation, as an adult, then you should be knowledgeable and know if you are fit for the big decision of a pregnancy to prevent having to deprive ZEF of its future experiences, as stated by Marquis. Continuing to relate back to his theory, if you are capable of bringing another life into this world, then an abortion is not needed. Teaching a person that having a potential person is bad, can definitely be seen as morally wrong. As stated above, we all started out at the same way, as potential people. How would we have ever evolved to be who we are today if it werent for our learning experiences? Everyone deserves a chance.
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