Don Marquis’s View on Abortion

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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Don Marquis begins his argument of abortion being immoral by mentioning the pro-choice premise, which was that the statement of a fetus is never a person being too narrow. It’s too narrow because if the fetus is never a person, then what would be the difference of a 9-month-old fetus and a newborn baby? That would just mean that infanticide isn’t considered murder because a 9-month-old fetus and newborn weren’t ever considered to be a person. Marquis further mentions that with this pro-choice argument, it cancels out the idea of too many things making people not considered “living”.

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  As for the other argument, the anti-abortion premise, which is that a fetus is a person from the moment of conception is too broad. It’s too broad because the other types of human life, such as genetic material, would be considered “human life”, but those things don’t deserve rights. Therefore, the anti-abortion premise would cover too many living things.

Now, mentioning what Marquis’s stance on why killing is morally wrong. Killing isn’t morally wrong not because of the impact it has on other people, but because it has to do with the impact it has on the victim. It’s morally wrong because it deprives the victim of a valuable future. Valuable futures consist of having things like experiences, goals, careers, relationships, and so forth, but it’s only limited to the value a future life has on that person, not on others. So, this argument to say the least, compares abortion and killing an innocent adult as more or less the same. To put everything together, abortion is morally wrong because it essentially deprives a fetus of having a valuable future.  Although this was not mentioned in his essay Marquis has mentioned that if there isn’t a valuable future for a fetus, such as the fetus’s lifespan is cut short due to a medical issue, then that is when and only when abortion is morally allowed.

To start critiquing, in the first page of Marquis’s essay, he says his essay will neglect cases involving the ethics of abortion such as rape. In my opinion, it’s hard to find Marquis’s argument compelling slightly because of this because if you’re going to argue something that is intractable, you need to considered all situations rather than pick and choose some and ignore others. Also, in Marquis’s essay, he doesn’t directly answer the argument of when a fetus is considered to be human. He criticizes how one argument is too narrow and one argument is too broad, but doesn’t mention his own opinion as to when a fetus is deemed human other than how a sperm and ovum aren’t human which seems too vague.  Another objection to this argument is that Marquis only gives a prima facie reason is to why abortion is wrong, meaning he gave us a reason, but didn’t explain how it was the best reason. He never mentioned anything about a woman’s right to choose and in fact left the mother’s situation unaddressed. A strong argument needs to address any and all people that could be included, and in this argument, in particular, the mother is heavily included which is why it can be hard to fully stand behind Marquis’s essay. Furthermore, Marquis’s argument is solely based on a fetus having a valuable future and that abortion is only morally right if the fetus lacks a valuable future, so it’s hard to agree fully in a situation where a woman was raped and was pregnant because of it because what about her future? Or even the consideration of possibly the child itself not having a totally valuable future because it was the result of such a horrific action that greatly can affect the mother. I would say in a situation like this where a woman was forced, both the fetus and the mother don’t exactly have a bright future because of trauma factoring into pleasurable experiences and relationships and so forth.

In closing, Marquis’s argument is a well-known argument because his reasons aren’t entirely too narrow or broad, but he needs to fill in some of the gaps and consider other situations in his essay. He only addresses how abortion is only morally right if it includes a reasoning that will deprive a fetus of a valuable future, but to compose an essay based on abortion being wrong, we need more outlooks to have a stronger argument. We can agree with why he thinks abortion is morally wrong, but marquis fails to explain why his reason is the best reason as to why it’s wrong-prima facie.

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Don Marquis's View On Abortion. (2019, Apr 19). Retrieved from