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Analogy analysis: Take the printout of The Famous Violinist. (Essay Sample)


Take the printout of The Famous Violinist.

Underline words or phrases in the thought experiment that you feel are analogous to the case of a pregnant woman and her fetus. For example, in the first scenario you are told you’ll be attached to the violinist for “only [ ] nine months,” which is an obvious allusion to the length of a standard pregnancy. Put an “S” above these words or phrases to denote “similarities.” Also underline words or phrases in the thought experiment that you feel are disanalogous to the case of the pregnant woman and her fetus. For instance, the person you’re attached to is a “violinist,” thus a fully-grown human person and not an unborn fetus. Put a “D” above these words to denote “dissimilarities.” For some things it may not be clear whether it’s a difference or similarity, but it seems relevant for the analogy. For instance, I’m not sure whether the violinist’s status as a “famous” person is similar or different to the status of an unborn fetus, but it still seems to be important for the argument in some way that the violinist isn’t simply a nobody. In these cases write “S/D.” 

In the margins or elsewhere you can also write comments about ways in which the famous violinist scenario is similar or different from real-life pregnancy cases. There’s more than one violinist scenario (e.g., one where you’re attached for 9 months, another where it’s for life, another where you will die soon as a result, etc.), and you may find that one scenario is more similar to one kind of pregnancy than to another, or more or less analogous overall to real-life cases.


The Famous Violinist
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The Famous Violinist
I propose, then, that we grant that the fetus is a person from the moment of conception. How does the argument go from here? Something like this, I take it. Every person has a right to life. So the fetus has a right to life. No doubt the mother has a right to decide what shall happen in and to her body; everyone would grant that. But surely a person's right to life is stronger and more stringent than the mother's right to decide what happens in and to her body, and so outweighs it. So the fetus may not be killed; an abortion may not be performed.

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