Abortion and the veil of ignorance: a response to Minehan

Journal of Medical Ethics 48 (6):411-412 (2022)
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Abstract

In a recent JME paper, Matthew John Minehan applies John Rawls’ veil of ignorance against Judith Thomson’s famous violinist argument for the permissibility of abortion. Minehan asks readers to ‘imagine that one morning you are back to back in bed with another person. One of you is conscious and the other unconscious. You do not know which one you are’. Since from this position of ignorance, you have an equal chance of being the unconscious violinist and the conscious person attached to him, it would be rational to oppose a right for detachment. Likewise, behind the veil of ignorance, it is rational to oppose abortions since you could be the fetus, Minehan claims. This paper provides a plausible reply to this argument.

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Joona Räsänen
University of Turku

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