Feminist Philosophers

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Reader query: Presenting both sides? September 25, 2013

Filed under: abortion,teaching — jennysaul @ 10:38 am

A reader writes:

I’m going to be a TA for the first time this fall, and the class I’m TA-ing for is Intro to Ethics.  As is probably pretty common in Ethics classes, one of the topics will be abortion.

And I’m not sure it’s morally permissible to use what authority I have as a TA to argue against the permissibility of abortion.  The whole “devil’s-advocate” approach is one of the reasons I really don’t like academic ethics, but I don’t know how else to treat the subject without upsetting pro-life students and possibly getting in trouble for failing to uphold the “neutrality” that seems to be expected of teachers.

Any advice?

 

36 Responses to “Reader query: Presenting both sides?”

  1. andrewducker Says:

    At some point your class will encounter people who _really believe_ the arguments against abortion. Think of your class as giving them a chance to practice dealing with this situation, and getting them used to discussing contentious issues in a forthright but rational manner.

    And remember that you have a duty towards all your students, including ones who have different opinions to you. It’s not your job to make them think like you, it’s your job to help them think better.

  2. diana Says:

    So I think a lot of intro ethics classes teach the ethics of abortion by merely asking if abortion is morally permissible. You might feel more comfortable starting with a background of facts about abortion: that 1 in 3 American women has an abortion in their lives, that lack of access to safe abortion kills more than 69,000 women and girls worldwide each year (more than half under 19 years old), etc. Then given that, is it morally permissible to ban abortion/restrict access to safe abortion? Even if you started with the usual suspects writing the works often read in intro classes (Marquis, I’m giving you the side-eye), moving the discussion to the morality of restricting access might be easier to moderate comfortably. Good luck!

  3. Helen De Cruz Says:

    I agree with the previous commenter that there is real educational value in showing both sides of a debate, it is not just paying lip service to a position you do not agree with. Abortion is one of those topics that elicits a strong, visceral response in opponents and proponents of diverse policies about it, and that can help everyone to grow as philosophers when they carefully consider the arguments rather than just go with their emotions.

  4. What he said! Also, I remember asking the same question as a substitute RE teacher in an all-boys high school (in 1985).The Head of RE told me that I should firmly play the Devil’s advocate, partly because of teaching the students to have a reasoned basis for their opinions and partly (and I still love this) because too much of their ‘moral’ thinking was much rooted in dreadful attitudes towards women which he also wanted to see challenged.

  5. Another approach you might try would be to use this unit on abortion as an opportunity to explore the role of emotion in a discussion like this. Having students self assess their participation in small group discussions might sensitize them to how they respond to views different from their own. You could ask questions like these: What was it like for you to discuss this? How committed are you to one side of the issue or another and why? What were your contributions to the discussion (including listening respectfully)? What did you learn from others in the discussion? Did anything that was said by others or yourself cause you to alter your views in any way? What could you have done differently in terms of your preparation or participation that would have made it a better learning experience for you and others? How might this help you to approach a discussion of a controversial ethical issue differently in the future?

  6. Matt Drabek Says:

    One thing I’ve found helpful is to explain to the class very clearly that there’s a distinction between the question of moral permissibility and the question of government regulation. It might sound obvious to philosophers, but to many folks on the street (students included), opposing something on moral ground automatically means they support its regulation by the state.

    If you can dislodge that, you’ll have done everyone a service. And it pairs very nicely, of course, with what Diana said above at #2.

  7. Matt Says:

    I think that Matt Drabek’s and Diana’s advice is excellent and should be followed. But, it does seem to me that there are intellectually respectable arguments against the permissibility of abortion- John Finnis’s in the old _The Rights and Wrongs of Abortion_ Philosophy and Public Affairs reader, and Don Marquis’s work, and perhaps others. To be clear, I don’t find these papers at all convincing, but they are certainly intellectually respectable and worth having students read and consider carefully. (I think that Finnis’s paper is a lot harder to understand and was harder for me to teach, for various reasons, but think both are worth teaching.)

  8. One of the things I love about teaching philosophy is that it is NOT indoctrination. The point is for people to have the (rare) opportunity to see an issue presented in full complexity, and come to “get” how reasonable people can disagree. One warning about talking through abortion issues, however. Depending on the demographics of your school, it is likely that some women in your class will have had abortions. Depending on the “tone” of contributions to the conversation (among other things), they might not feel safe “outing” themselves. Then it is possible for the abstract conversation to go on and on, all the time leaving them (and the important info about their experiences) excluded — and feeling judged in what can be a harsh third-person voice. I typically call attention to this situation early in the conversation, and do my best to remind people as the conversation goes on….

    Another part of my experience. I think it is impossible to talk about abortion responsibly without talking about the power dynamics in sexuality — one huge question is :if a woman did not want to be pregnant, how did the sexual negotiations not take that into account? (Though women/couples can seek abortions for a variety of reasons, and that is also important to remember.) I have been shocked that the harshest denunciations of especially young women who could have not needed an abortion had they used birth control…. well, they come from young women. Be prepared: this issue touches lots and lots and lots of “unsaid” and perhaps yet unsay-able- parts of people’s lives…

  9. Michel X. Says:

    You’ve probably got two readings on the subject, one pro and one con, right? If so, then one thing you can do–and you can say this explicitly–is just focus on the readings, and the arguments presented there. Have them identify the strengths and weaknesses of the arguments, and use it as a teachable moment to show that arguing from a conclusion (or whatever) is a bad idea. Take the time to explain that just because someone’s arguments are good or bad doesn’t mean that they are right or wrong to take the position they do, that the point is to examine arguments rather than to convince anyone.

    In a way, it’s kind of hiding behind the text(s). But it’s also, I think, a good way to demonstrate how philosophy is supposed to work, and the kind of work that you’ll be expecting from them later on. If you can have everybody come up with a strength and weakness of the arguments on either side, then at least you’ve started people on the path to a sympathetic understanding of the positions, rather than a vitriolic gut-reaction.

  10. Mozzer Says:

    If you don’t think you’ll be able to fulfill the duties of your TA-ship, you might consider resigning…or at least asking for another assignment.

    What do you mean by “neutrality”? If you take this to require that you present arguments with a seriousness proportionate to their favor among the public at large, then, no, I don’t think you should be neutral. (Call this the “journalistic” conception of neutrality; I’ve seen it lamented repeatedly at Brian Leiter’s blog.) If you take this to require that you present arguments with a seriousness proportionate to the plausibility of their premises and the degree to which their premises support their conclusions, then, yes, I think you should be neutral.

    Finally, I would say that students know a cover-up when they see it, and I think anything other than neutrality in at least the second sense is going to reinforce — and indeed, help to justify — the widespread belief that humanities education in universities is not about the search for truth, but is rather about providing a forum for instructors to push their liberal views on students. This is the case even if the instructors’ views are correct.

  11. Kathleen Lowrey Says:

    Something that I have often thought about, but not seen discussed — though there may well be good discussions of it somewhere — is how using abortion as a “learning point” in university classrooms relies on a conspiracy of silence around the fact that there will always be some number of the young women in the room will in fact have had abortions. Some students will be talking about “murder” and other students will be talking about “choice” and some students will be sitting there with their stomachs in knots. They’d be out of their minds if they outed themselves — the ones who would even consider doing so will always be smaller than the actual number who have had abortions anyway — because no small number of their fellow students would respond with reactions ranging from prim slut-shaming (possibly silent, communicated with body language etc.) to abusive violence. If we discuss other topics about “people whom we know and acknowledge to exist amongst us, at least a few of whom are in the room” (race / gender / sex / disability) the discussion tends to be grounded — the more grounded the more there are at least a few visible such persons present. Abortion doesn’t generate the same conditions of decency in public discussions and so — to wrap it up — is in my view a true nightmare topic to use with undergraduates as a “learning point” in this way. It’s irresponsible and cruel and there is no way to fix it in the classroom: raising the point about how women who have had abortions don’t out themselves can create a discussion about how they ought, some student might do so to make a point, and get a backlash she didn’t anticipate… if she remains silent, she may well be actively being traumatized by compassion-free denunciations made by sure of themselves 19 year olds. I think the breezy deployment of abortion in the undergraduate philosophy classroom bespeaks a total failure of imagination, at many many levels.

  12. ajfifth Says:

    I tend to agree with Kathleen Lowrey’s point above. In addition, I think that if your pedagogical goal is to teach students how to think ethically, it’s best to avoid topics (at least at first) that have been argued in the public domain very, very poorly, over a long period of time. Such topics present so many pre-fabricated barriers to thought that you’re behind before you start. Better to start with less overdetermined, but still compelling, ethical challenges, preferably those that don’t obviously or neatly align with polarized political commitments (some examples: the ethics of student loans, or the use of prenatal genetic testing — not that both of these don’t have their pitfalls too, but at least, for some students, they won’t have the intellectual ruts that topics like abortion and the death penalty do).

  13. beta Says:

    Mozzer’s suggestion that the first-time-TA consider resigning if she can’t fulfill her duties seems to mischaracterize the query. It certainly sounds like the student is ready to do the job and is instead trying to work out how to do it.

    I sympathize with Kathleen Lowrey’s point, a lot, but I still keep the topic of abortion on my syllabus in applied ethics courses, because I really believe I can help my fellow (young) citizens think and vote and converse about it better. I DO worry about the conspiracy of silencing and one way I try to disrupt it is to make the silence explicit, so I suggest to the query-author that my practice works well and is worth emulating: I tell my class that the upcoming topic is abortion, and that this is a topic which affects individuals so differently, because some can maintain indifference to it while others have their reasons to take it very personally. So in the interests of being a good class that works well together, I lay out the ground-rule that we will not be offering or requesting personal experience in discussions about the readings on this topic. I acknowledge to all my students that a common tactic in argumentation about any topic X is to ask, “How do you know, have you ever X-ed?” Then I explain that when it comes to this topic, the results of such a challenge can be far more painful than a challenger even realizes, and indeed call forth traumas and pains that are irrelevant to whether or not Don Marquis has good premises to support his conclusion.

    So yes, I do end up doing much of what Michel described, attending to how some philosophers have reasoned about abortion, and to Matt’s point that ethical theories help us to work out whether regulation is the best response to the moral issues, keeping eyes on the texts instead of each other’s souls. But my students and I get on the same page about why we’re doing that.

  14. diana Says:

    I am a person who was once an undergrad in an entry-level philosophy class which covered abortion, and I outed myself as having had an abortion. The response was appalling, including one student who raised her hand, looked at me, and said “some women need to learn to shut their legs.” I took another pretty entry-level ethics class which again discussed abortion (because I’m a glutton for punishment) and this time stayed silent. I honestly don’t know which was more painful.

    I heartily second Kathleen Lowrey’s statement, but I also want to point out that many of the old classics on this feed the conspiracy of silence. Marquis’s paper literally does not include the words “woman” or “women” aside from a clause in which he says, “I am not considering women in this paper.” How are students supposed to keep in mind the peers that have experienced this when the assigned readings ask them not to?

  15. LogicFan Says:

    I think this is good advice, although I disagree with Kathleen Lowrey’s point. I’m not sure there’s any single problem in moral philosophy more interesting, philosophically sophisticated, pedagogically useful, or relevant to policy than abortion. I think, in short, that your students lose too much in terms of their ability to reason through moral problems when you exclude abortion from the syllabus.

    I never thought of my students as a particularly progressive bunch, but they certainly would not respond as the way Ms. Lowrey’s students apparently would–with “slut-shaming” or “abusive violence” (really?) Some might, of course, think that what the student did in procuring an abortion was immoral and so she might open herself up to uncomfortable moral criticism. I don’t think there’s any problem there, and it’s one of the reasons that it’s an act of courage to speak up that way. Ms. Lowrey is correct that abortion “doesn’t generate the same conditions of decency in public discussions”, but this is a result of an absence of rigorous philosophical engagement on the issue, not its presence.

    To the original poster, I would not worry about presenting arguments for the side of debates with which you disagree; I think rather that you are morally obliged to do so as best you can. You and I share similar beliefs, I presume, about the moral permissibility of abortion, but I have no problem presenting the pro-life view as forcefully as possible. The reasons for this are myriad. Among them is that we are not in the business of political indoctrination. We are paid to teach our students about philosophy and in the process get them to think more clearly and rigorously about difficult moral questions. And, anyway, if you are good at your job in this respect, dispassionate and objective in the classroom, your students will likely come around to the “right” answers in the end anyway.

  16. beta Says:

    diana, I am so so sorry to hear of your experience! Indeed, one of the reasons I ask my students to agree not to request or disclose personal experience is because it’s the closest I can come to saying to my students: I’m afraid you will be assholes to each other, and I am afraid I’ll lose my shit when you are.

  17. DavidRLogan Says:

    I’m not a prof. and have only TA’d for science classes (that is half disclosure, half self-aggrandizement)…but am I the only one who likes the more belligerent policy hinted by the OP (not teaching the other side at all?)??

    I think sometimes that is the way to go in college (but I can’t persuade that this is one of those times.) For example, my first few years of school I took everything Ron Paul said as gospel, and a particular feminist philosopher would constantly say to me that was crazy and they would be extremely dismissive toward libertarian stuff like Nozick’s ASU. Since I really looked up to this person, I think that helped my personal growth lots more than if they had been “neutral” about those issues.

    I’m expressing myself badly. Does it make sense what I’m saying here?

  18. diana Says:

    Thanks, beta. My TA at the time basically said, “hey, that shit is not allowed,” so that helped.

    I brought up my abortion experience as a counter-example to an argument, but frustratingly, outing myself also just shut down discussion afterwards. I think it’s so very uncommon to hear people speak openly about their abortion experiences that no one is really sure what to do in that situation.

    I’m not sure there is a good way to have this conversation in an intro class. People who want the discussion divorced from real people’s experiences alienate the people whose lives are being cavalierly discussed as if they themselves are not even a factor, and people who want to discuss abortion while taking into account the people who have them alienate the people who want this to be a dispassionate moral question about the rights of a fetus, full stop. (Sorry if that sentence is hard to parse.) In most intro ethics classes it’s presented as a pro- and a con- of the same conversation, but these are really just two parallel conversations talking past each other, which adds to the frustration of students who are rich on political talking points and poor on well-honed philosophical skills.

  19. beta Says:

    DavidRLogan, yes, it makes perfect sense that an instructor can also explicitly disclose her position in a way which engages and challenges students. I try to do so myself. I do not maintain a neutral stance on the issues I cover because I am not a good liar; if I pretend neutrality but say or do things which reveal my biases — and I have an unfortunately revealing face — then my students tend to assess me as though I’m actually more unfaily disposed than they do when I just tell them where I’m coming from. Respecting others with whom I disagree is so much easier for me when I’m not preoccupied with deception.

    Interesting that diana says “I’m not sure there is a good way to have this conversation in an intro class.” Although I try to resist this re: abortion, I must confess that I have stopped including the topic of welfare — because I was a food-stamp recipient once, and as a graduate student TA, I sort of dropped the personal-experience info on a group of intro students who were confidently saying erroneous things about welfare recipients. It was a bad day, and mutually alienating. I don’t even try anymore. Actually, now that I’m a professor, I could probably handle the whole darn topic better, but ugh.

  20. mm Says:

    I like it when professors are open about their philosophical beliefs in a classroom setting. It often is better than false neutrality. I’m not so into professors mocking the views of their students as crazy, especially intro students. That sounds like the sort of thing David#17 was talking about, and I definitely don’t approve of that. But I also don’t think the original poster was advocating this.

  21. DavidRLogan Says:

    ^^^thanks for the response beta and mm. You’re right mm, that was what I meant and that was helpful to me…but I’ll think more about whether I am just idiosyncratic in that regard!

  22. Alan Says:

    I always preface my discussion of abortion with remarks that I am sensitive to the fact that stats show that some in my class may have already faced this issue as a practical decision, and I prefer that our discussions always respect that. I am particularly horrified by diana’s experience above, where the student reacted emotionally without even knowing the context and circumstances of what was going on (not to mention the abject disrespect in light of that ignorance).

    One way I try to defuse such confrontations is that use an anonymous survey (totally so–I never know who responds to what; too detailed for now to explain) to get my intro students to express opinions about moral issues in my second class, and in one portion I present 4 cases of abortion that involve apparent choice, severe fetal defect, maternal life in danger, and gender choice. But the apparent choice case is one I use to prevent rushing to judgments: as queried it reads ” a college student discovers she is 6 weeks pregnant and chooses an abortion, in part to go ahead with her college and career plans”. (I’ve given this survey since the 80s, and even as clumsily phrased I have seen a complete turn-around from a majority of “permissible” responses to a majority of “impermissible” responses, clearly indicative of the success of the pro-life movement.) But when we discuss the results, I report the collective anonymous votes (now mostly “impermissible’ as I said, and frequently accompanied by snide scolding like diana’s student), and then I ask, “Did you read the question carefully? It says the abortion was justified “in part” by college and career plans. Note that nothing was said of the circumstances of how she got pregnant. Might you answer differently if she was date-raped?” I’ve seen mouths drop open at that.

    That usually helps students to see that this is an extremely complex problem. The fact that their collective answers across the 4 scenarios swing from majority one way to another also blatantly demonstrates that there is a fundamental collective confusion about how to treat a moral problem that has lots of moral subtleties.

    FWIW I like Robert Veatch’s approach to seeing this issue largely in terms of what constitutes the value of full- versus partial moral status of fetuses. It leaves open where one fixes such value judgments on the biology, but focuses on moral consequences of such a fixture in particular cases.

    Again, diana, please know your case hurt my heart, but moved me to this post.

  23. Matt Says:

    That’s interesting about the welfare discussion, Beta. Whenever I’ve talked about the issue I note to students that when I was young my family qualified for several types of welfare benefits- WIC checks for some time, and “reduced price” lunch tickets at school for many years, and note how the way the later were done was more than a bit embarrassing for me as a young kid. This was often at Penn, where, you can imagine, lots of undergrads have never known, or think they have never known, anyone getting welfare benefits. As it turns out, there were always a few students who had, and who were not eager to say so, but it was easy, in that situation, for me to say so- I was now the person who controlled their grades, after all. For me, it was useful- people saw that welfare had been quite useful for someone- and it allowed them to think a bit differently than they had before. (It’s partially for these reasons why I’ve always liked the “I had an abortion” t-shirts some people had for a while, though I certainly understand why many people would not want to wear them.)

  24. Kathleen Lowrey Says:

    AJFifth — That too! and you put it so eloquently!

    beta — I appreciate that you are thoughtful about this, but your “workaround” strikes me as not quite apposite. Can you imagine discussing affirmative action in a diverse classroom and saying “we are not gong to discuss anybody’s personal experience here”? I mean, it seems to me that that sort of enjoins as the “default” position a… familiar one. I mean, the view from nowhere that looks actually is the perspective inhabited by a privileged white guy. I can tell this isn’t what you mean to do, but do you see how it might be the effect?

    Diana — that is terrible, and I am so sorry. It is the nightmare scenario I envisioned, realized. again, I am really sorry.

    LogicFan — that you react with disbelief to the notion that “abusive violence” is a common societal reaction to women and abortion, you aren’t paying attention and shouldn’t be let loose near the topic around undergraduates.

    Alan — it sounds like you mean well, but inviting a classroom full of undergraduates to speculate about whether decisions some of their peers may well have made were “justified” (oh but what if she was RAPED?) in a circumstance where a certain kind of silence about this being a real thing, not a hypothetical thing, is necessary to protect the safety and well-being of women students, again, I just think: yeah, this is precisely why this is not a good “thinky” topic for 101 classes. It’s not equally hand-wavey for everybody, in a way that you can’t create work-arounds for, nor will you be able to substitute for the moral force of having, say, non-white faces in the room during discussions of race.

  25. LogicFan Says:

    Kathleen Lowrey–

    That’s unfair. I didn’t say that abusive violence isn’t a common societal reaction to women and abortion. (Although I don’t think it is common, at least where I live in the States, although we could certainly debate the meaning of “common”).

    I said that my students would not react to the admission that one among them had had an abortion with abusive violence.

    I find it incredible–literally, it cannot be believed–that you cannot see the distinction between my assertion and your straw man attribution that abusive violence isn’t a common societal reaction to women and abortion. Ask yourself, on what grounds might I make this judgment about my students? Might I perhaps know something about them which you, who know absolutely nothing about them, nor about me, do not?

    I’m beginning to change my mind about being charitable to mean people, so in that vein let me point out another reason one shouldn’t be “let loose . . . around undergraduates”: a failure to understand basic, informal logic and the rules of rigorous argument.

  26. diana Says:

    LogicFan, I think I’m also a little confused about how your students are so outside of society that they aren’t influenced by its norms and attitudes. Also, I have bad news about whether these reactions happened in a state that prides itself on being super liberal. When I was in school in Massachusetts, there was almost one domestic homicide each week in that state alone. Violence against women is pervasive in our culture.

  27. Derek Bowman Says:

    Although I’ve taught the abortion debate early on as a TA, I was too naive at the time to be sensitive to these concerns. Without even noticing it, I simply assumed I knew basically where my students were coming from and that for them, as for me, these were just more academic questions – being personal only in the sense of attaching to their religious or political affiliations.

    More recently, when designing my own ethics syllabus, I shied away from including abortion as an applied ethics topic for many of the reasons discussed. But I also worried that I was being intellectually dishonest. After all, I was spending the first part of the course insisting to the students that these dry ethical theories propounded by dead white guys could provide a reasoned way for addressing real moral questions that affect their lives. And yet here I was, queasy about discussing a topic, precisely out of the fear that it might actually involve real choices in someone’s life. (Ultimately I included abortion on a list of topics for the students to vote on – happily it wasn’t selected).

    I guess I remain undecided about whether, ideally, the abortion debate ought to be part of an introductory ethics curriculum. Teaching it well is surely be a great achievement, and a great benefit to our students, for the reasons beta gives at 13. But surely the considerations raised by Kathleen Lowrey, ajfifth, diana, etc. show that this is an advanced pedagogical task, and one we should be wary of throwing TAs (or, sometimes even ourselves) into such treacherous territory without adequate pedagogical experience or training.

  28. LogicFan Says:

    diana–

    I didn’t say that my students are “so outside of society that they aren’t influenced by its norms and attitudes”. On the contrary, they are well within society, and they are certainly influenced by its norms and attitudes.

    I will further stipulate that one of these “norms and attitudes” is abusive violence toward women who have had an abortion. (I sort of disagree with this proposition, for the reasons given above, although I agree with your assertion that violence against women is pervasive in our culture. I’d rather just put it that violence is pervasive in our culture.)

    What I said was that my students would not react to the admission that one among them had an abortion with abusive violence. Just as you are doubtless influenced by society’s norms and attitudes to some extent, but, I assume, would never be violent toward a woman because she had procured an abortion, the same is case with my students.

    I hope that this clarification is helpful.

  29. ejrd Says:

    Here’s a question I’ve had as I read through all of your (very helpful) comments. My won relationship to teaching the abortion debate is very much like Derek’s. I’m familiar with only the really classic literature since this is not my area of specialization though it is a course that I must teach at least once a year (usually twice). So I wanted to ask for suggestions about articles that actually are sensitive to the many ethical issues surrounding abortion (I’ve always liked that Judith Thomson’s piece at least acknowledged straightforwardly that the status of the fetus was just one of the issues that could bear on the issue) and also, beyond exploring the multifaceted nature of the debate was also written in a way that didn’t treat abortion as a purely academic puzzle (as I admit that I used to when I taught this topic). I would love a piece that did both of these things.

  30. Kathleen Lowrey Says:

    LogicFan — your assumptions are safe for you in a way they are not for women students who have had abortions. Hope that clarification is helpful.

  31. LogicFan Says:

    Kathleen Lowrey–

    I am not making assumptions. You are.

    I am the one teaching my students, listening to their personal stories, guiding them through discussion of difficult moral questions, and so on. I know their names, their personalities, and in some cases the personal challenges that they have had to endure. I know about the ethical issues we have discussed and their reactions in these discussions. And I judge, based on this experience, that they would not react to the admission that one among them has had an abortion with abusive violence.

    You know absolutely nothing about them. You are trying to fallaciously apply your own parochial experience, which I do not dispute (although I do find it disturbing!), to another’s experience. And you have no grounds to do this.

    I speak only for my limited experience (although I suspect it generalizes to many college programs, at least in the States): The conduct you describe is very, very unlikely to take place. I’m sorry if this does not square with your ideological beliefs, or if it is not the way you wish the world were (I cannot believe that this is the case), but it is true nonetheless.

  32. P2 Says:

    LogicFan — you would do well to speak less on this blog, and listen more.

  33. LogicFan Says:

    P2 —

    You would do well to use rigorous argument instead of name-calling. If I am mistaken about something, which is certainly possible as I am mistaken about things all the time, you should be able to demonstrate that rigorously.

    The proposition at issue is whether students in *my ethics class* would be moved to violence if one of their number admitted to procuring an abortion. Not whether some students, somewhere, would; or whether there exists a culture of retribution against women who procure abortions; or whether we all ought to do a better job in understanding the perspective of those women. Surely, to some extent at least, all those propositions are true. But none of them entail the proposition at issue.

    I think I have very good grounds for my position. Some of these grounds are public (I have revealed them to you) and some of them are private. In any event, I have given reasons and a valid argument for my view. If it is unsound you should be able to point out how.

  34. CM Says:

    I’d really like to follow up on ejrd’s request at 29.

  35. jennysaul Says:

    I’m sorry I haven’t been available to moderate this properly. It has got very far away from nice unfortunately, so I’m going to ask people to confine themselves to literature suggestions from here on out.

  36. Kate Norlock Says:

    Oh, hey, ejrd — check out Hilde LIndemann, “But I Could NEver Have one,” Hypatia Special Issue: Oppression and Moral Agency: Essays in Honor of Claudia Card
    Volume 24, Issue 1, pages 41–55, Winter 2009 and
    Catriona MacKenzie, abortion and embodiment, at

    http://theaetetus.tamu.edu/phil-111/notes/mackenzie-abortion.pdf


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