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This essay is an analysis of abortion in utilitarian terms Compared to some writings on abortion it is very short And it is short for good reason utilitarianism really has very little to say on this issue Intuitionists will predictably take this as proof of the inadequacy of utilitarianism The utilitarian however after noticing the various muddles produced by the intuitionist - the arguments over whether the fetus is a person whether one person has the right to the use of anothers body andor whether someone has the right to determine what occurs in their own body and in the case of both the interminable debates as to what is to be done about the dilemma and whether having sex in the first instance amounts to an invitation and the effects of this - might take this issue to be a good example of the inadequacy of intuitionism It may also be noticed that utilitarianism avoids altogether a problem which has plagued many attempts to justify abortion from a more conventional moral framework The problem is this if it is sometimes permissible to kill a fetus where is the dividing-line between this and killing a normal baby or adult The problem emerges because abortion is held to be sometimes permissible but killing a normal baby or adult not and it is quite hard to point to a hard and fast morally-relevant distinction eg at what stage does consciousness develop Utility avoids the problem because it does not share the assumptions - it does not say that it is never right to kill a normal baby or adult in fact the considerations in each case would be quite similar with the exception of alarm in the case of adults Utilitarianism of the hedonistic variety is we may recall concerned only with pleasure and with pain Therefore we shall be concerned with the amounts of pleasure and pain in situations where abortion is permitted as contrasted with
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