Short Essay Assignment


In her paper, "A Defense of Abortion," Judith Jarvis Thomson describes her famous violinist thought-experiement (starting on p. 48). Briefly describe this thought-experiment in your own words. What does Thomson think that reflection on the thought-experiment shows?

To answer this question, you might think about the following: What view of rights is Thomson disputing? How does the violinist case challenge that view of rights? What is the difference between having a right to life and having a right to what you need to live? Why would that difference matter to the case of abortion?

Guidelines and Expectations

• Your paper should be two pages long. Your paper cannot go over two pages. Double-space your paper and use 12 point font with regular margins.

• Do not use a coverpage. You must staple the two pages together.

• Your paper must be in essay form (that is, avoid the format I'm using now).

• Your paper must be written in clear, literate English. Grammatical errors, mispellings, etc. will result in a lower grade.

• The main thing to focus on with this paper is demonstrating that you've understood Thomson's main points. Don't worry about assessing her argument. Just try to set out the main ideas as clearly as you can.

• The late penalty for this assignment is one third of a letter grade per day.