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Is there such a thing as a 'right to life'? If so, is it an absolute right, or is it dependent upon something else?

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Introduction

Is there such a thing as a 'right to life'? If so, is it an absolute right, or is it dependent upon something else? The sanctity of life is considered even without religious ethics taken into account, "It is never right to murder" is an absolutist view, but is a 'right to life' an absolutist right, to say that everything has the right to live is understandable but can it be altered with dependence on situations? John Locke gave a definition of a person "a thinking intelligent being that has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places". ...read more.

Middle

In the case of abortion science can only give a rough estimate to when life begins; something is generally defined as being alive if it is a complex system that is self-replicating and self-determining. It is then said to be conscious if it responds to the environment appears to do so in a way that implies choice. An absolute right would be to say that murder is wrong because everyone has a right to life but the difficulty would the determination of when the personhood comes into account to which the right can be applied. Science, Joseph Fletcher and John Locke cover slightly different but wholly similar views to when personhood comes into account; Science and John Locke's definitions are more rational and with reason whereas Joseph Fletcher's is like his approach to ethics, dependable upon situations. ...read more.

Conclusion

As someone in a PVS or an embryo who has no value or quality of life has more of a right to life than a non-human species with personhood such as whales, dolphins or higher intelligent apes. Utilitarianism takes the view a person essentially has desires of his or her future, but as we die our desires die with us. Killing the person eliminates the happiness the victim could have had by fulfilling their desires which would not be achieving the greatest happiness. Preference utilitarianism has to take into account a victims preference to live; it is more against a person being killed than a human being. A person will have desires and preferences to live on and fulfil their desires or ambitions and therefore it is wrong to take away their right to life as these will not be satisfied. ...read more.

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