The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 17, Issue 4, pp 275–304 | Cite as

Abortion and Ownership



I explore two thought-experiments in Judith Jarvis Thomson’s important article, “A Defense of Abortion”: the violinist example and the people-seeds example. I argue (contra Thomson) that you have a moral duty not to unplug yourself from the violinist and also a moral duty not to destroy a people-seed that has landed in your sofa. Nevertheless, I also argue that there are crucial differences between the thought-experiments and the contexts of pregnancy due to rape or to contraceptive failure. In virtue of these differences, it would not follow from my conclusions about the violinist and people-seeds cases that abortion would not be permissible in a case of rape or in a case of voluntary intercourse with contraceptive failure.


Abortion Cabin Case Judith Jarvis Thomson Person Rape Voluntary intercourse Violinist example People-seeds example 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of California, RiversideRiversideUSA

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