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An Ethics Ensemble: Abortion, Thomson, Finnis and the Case of the Violin-Player

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This paper considers approaches to the ethics of abortion and putative links to “rights” debates. In particular, it revisits two papers on the topic from the early 1970’s, written by Judith Jarvis Thomson and John Finnis respectively. Consideration of the discourse produced by these papers to some extent reveals the strategic importance of linguistic and conceptual organisation—the rhetorical forces underlying claims to disinterested, analytical standing. In particular, the paper reviews the practical ethics analogy proposed by Thomson; the deployment of “Hohfeldian” rights analysis by John Finnis, the link to the abortion debate and the broader implications of such deployment in its relation to current “rights” discourse.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Swansea, Department of Law, Swansea, United Kingdom

Publication date: 2004-09-01

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