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After covering Ethics in a Nutshell and Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do? we’ll close out the semester by reviewing several philosophical readings on the ethics of abortion. You’ll no doubt enter the class with some sort of view on whether abortion is permissible or impermissible, in which cases, and what details make a difference.

My aim isn’t to convince you to adopt a predetermined conclusion, but to enrich your understanding of the complexity of considerations thoughtful people take into account when examining an issue such as this. The course project will entail further analyzing the arguments we’ll consider, formulating and presenting your own philosophical argument on abortion.

In fact, we’re going to proactively consider how coming technological advances will impact abortion ethics, namely, how artificial wombs might or might not resolve the traditional abortion debate, and whether terminal abortions will become impermissible in many cases once artificial wombs are perfected.Goal: The goal of this assignment is for you to develop a rich understanding of the morally relevant factors surrounding to the ethics of abortion, as well as the ability to think through a difficult issue in an objective fashion (that would make Spock proud) using concepts and techniques developed by philosophical ethicists.

The approach and techniques honed while completing this assignment should be available for you to apply to other issues both now and for the rest of your life – it’s intentionally designed to encourage and facilitate personal growth. Note that the arguments politicians typically employ when discussing abortion are shamefully simplistic. By the end of the course project my goal is that you will possess and demonstrate a much more sophisticated understanding of the issue, key philosophical arguments surrounding it, as well as what you yourself rationally believe makes the most sense. Please keep this expectation in mind when completing the assignment – asserting and defending a “right to life” or a “right to control one’s body” without covering and engaging the course readings will result in a poor grade. Questions, as well as draft outlines for advance feedback, welcome and recommended.

Assignment: Per the detailed page-by-page instructions below, in seven pages, succinctly summarize the abortion ethics, ectogenesis and “right to the death of the UDH” assigned readings, then develop and defend an original argument that articulates whether artificial wombs, once medically perfected, will render terminal abortions in the vast majority of cases unethical, or whether pregnant women might permissibly have a UDH growing within them terminated even when it could be effectively gestated outside their body in an artificial womb. Whatever your position, focus on explaining the why behind it, and strive to incorporate, build on and synthesize the assigned materials.Before developing your own view, briefly reconstruct all of the abortion articles we?ve covered in this class, as well as the arguments from the two ectogenesis-specific readings (Singer/Wells and Sander-Staudt), as well as the right to the death of the UDH readings (Mathison and Davis, Rasanen and Overall. Further specific directions on what to include on each page:

Page 1: In your own words and citing the articles reconstruct Thomson and Little?s arguments concerning the ethics of abortion.

Page 2: In your own words and citing the articles reconstruct Noonan and Callahan?s arguments concerning the ethics of abortion. Page 3: In your own words and citing the articles reconstruct Singer & Wells?s and Sander-Staudt?s arguments concerning the ethics of artificial wombs and abortion.

Page 4: In your own words and citing the articles reconstruct Mathison & Davis’s, Rasanen’s, and Overall’s arguments concerning artificial wombs and a potential right to the death of the UDH.

Pages 5 and 6: Drawing on considerations from the assigned articles, concisely construct an original argument as to whether artificial wombs, once medically perfected, would render terminal abortions in the vast majority of cases unethical, or whether pregnant women might permissibly have a UDH growing within them terminated even when it could be effectively gestated outside their body in an artificial womb. Be sure to clearly explain nuances to the view you’re defending, and to offer good reasons in support of it that build on, synthesize, engage, address, respond to, etc. the course readings. (You can see from the readings where the conversation amongst ethicists has been and where it currently is. Your job here is to use your growing skill as an ethicist to extend that ongoing discussion.)

Page 7: Articulate what a smart and reasonable critic might say to challenge your argument, and then effectively respond to this criticism, using your response to sharpen (rather than simply restate) your argument.

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