Arguing about Life and Death
Arguments about life and death, especially those about abortion and euthanasia, are among the most contentious on the contemporary political landscape. Many people simply assume that people’s views on these issues are just matters of opinion and are beyond the realm of argument. Others assume that their point of view is so obviously correct that anyone opposing that point of view is either ignorant or blatantly immoral. This course explores our ability to consider reasonable arguments on both sides of the issues of abortion and euthanasia to see how people can actually argue about matters of deeply held values. We enter this discussion for two reasons: first, to learn how argumentation functions in the realm of values; and second, to consider in more depth, reasoned opinions about euthanasia and abortion. In this course, we will examine arguments about abortion and euthanasia from scholars such as Hadley Arkes, Judith Jarvis Thompson, and Peter Singer. In addition to considering scholarly arguments, we will examine a variety of arguments from the public sphere presented by politicians and by ordinary citizens.
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