Some Practice on Reconstructing Arguments

Below are several passages from assigned readings. Your task is to reformulate the argument suggested by the passage into a strictly valid argument that is also as faithful as possible to the intentions of the author. "Answers" -- that is, suggested reformulations are in a separate document. To get the maximum benefit from this exercise, I recommend that you try reformulating the arguments on your own before you look at the suggestions.

1. (From Steven Pinker's, "The Moral Instinct")

 In his influential essay “The Wisdom of Repugnance,” Leon Kass, former chair of the President’s Council on Bioethics, argued that we should disregard reason when it comes to clon­ing and other biomedical technologies and go with our gut: “We are repelled by the pros­pect of cloning human beings . . . because we intuit and feel, immediately and without argument, the violation of things that we rightfully hold dear. . . . In this age in which everything is held to be permissible so long as it is freely done . . . repugnance may be the only voice left that speaks up to defend the central core of our humanity. Shallow are the souls that have forgotten how to shudder.”

There are, of course, good reasons to regulate human cloning, but the shudder test is not one of them. People have shuddered at all kinds of morally irrelevant violations of purity in their culture: touching an untouchable, drinking from the same water fountain as a Negro, allowing Jewish blood to mix with Aryan blood, tolerating sodomy between consenting men.

2. (From "What are moral questions and how can they be answered?)

Second, her question (about whether abortion is morally permissible) is not a question that a sociologist can answer. If she reads that 62.27% of her fellow citizens think that an abortion is permissible in circumstances like hers, her problem has not been solved. She still needs to decide whether she ought to have an abortion or not.

3. (From "What are moral questions and how can they be answered?)

If a social consensus [concerning a moral question] guaranteed its own correctness, all defenders of unpoular views would automatically be mistaken. But iconoclasts cannot be refuted with polls,. . .

4. (From Mary Ann Warren's "On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion")

Regardless of how he got captured, he is not morally obligated to remain in captivity for any period of time for the sake of permitting any number of potential people to come into actuality, so great is the margin by which oen actual person's right to liberty outweighs whatever right to life even a hundred thousand potential people have. And it seems readsonable to ocnclude that the rights of a woman will outweigh by a similar margin whatever right to life a fetus may have by virtue of its potential personhood.

5. (From Don Marquis, "Why Abortion Is Immoral")

The suffering caused by the infliction of pain is what makes the wanton of infliction of pain on me wrong. . . .The wanton infliction of pain on animals causes suffering. Sicne causing suffering is what make the wanton infliction of pain wrong and since the wanton inflict of pain on animals causes suffering, it follows that the wanton inflict of pain on animals is wrong.

6. (From Don Marquis, "Why Abortion Is Immoral")

One problem with the desire account is that we do regard it as seriously wrong to kill persons who have little desire to live or who have no desire to live, or, indeed have a desire not to live. We believe it is seriouslyu wrong to kill the unconscious, the sleeping, those who are tired of life, and those who are suicidal.

7. (From Baruch Brody, "Opposition to Abortion: a Human Rights Approach,")

Our intuition is that the person whose life is threatened (call that person A) may either thake the life of the person (B) who threatens his life or call upon someone else . . . to do so. . . [But] Consider the following case: there is, let us imagine, a medicine that A needs to stay alive. C owns some, and C will give it to A only if A kills B. Moreover, A has no other way of getting the medicine. In this case, the continued existence of B certainly poses a threat to the life of A; A can survive only if B does not survive. Still, it is not permissible for A to kill B in order to save A's life.