Author Archives: Paula Deroseney

The Dilemma of Painless Killing

For most people, the act of killing is wrong because it inflicts pain on the animal or person being killed. However, when the idea of the painless killing of an animal or a person is introduced, people are split between the two.

In the last couple of years, there has been a fight against animal cruelty and animal testing. When scientists experiment on animals, people see this as unethical as many complications can occur from the products’ reaction to the animal. The main argument is that animal testing can cause harm to animals. The substances tested on animals can cause symptoms that can result in serious issues and even death. However, in the case of painless deaths, is it morally wrong to kill using this method? Using methods to kill that do not inflict pain on the animal does not inflict any type of pain or discomfort for the animal. The killing of the animal does not harm any one and actually benefits those who need the meat to eat and live.

While others may argue that it takes away from the animal’s opportunity to live, most likely nothing will be taken away from the animal. The daily lives of animals typically consist of just eating and sleeping. This is nothing interesting enough to continue living for. When animals simply eat and sleep all day, everyday, they have nothing to lose. Painless killing removes the pain that could have been administered to the animal in order to kill it, and by using this method, the animal does not suffer and the people who receive the meat benefit. From a utilitarian’s point of view, since people are being benefitted and the animal is not harmed, the killing of the animal using painless methods is morally right. It brings about the greatest amount of good and happiness.

Since the animal is killed using painless measures, it is not morally wrong to kill the animal to use it for good rather than prolonging a life with no other purpose.

So Why is Abortion Wrong?

If you paid any attention to the title of this piece, you would have known what the essay was going to be about before even reading the paper. In “Abortion is Morally Wrong,” John T. Noonan Jr. defends the idea that an entity becomes a person at the time of conception and that abortion is morally wrong. The only exception to his belief is if the mother’s life is at stake (Noonan Jr. 353) Throughout his writing, Noonan Jr. presents oppositions from the opposing stance that abortion is morally right, and then refutes it. He attempts to answer the question: “How do you determine the humanity of a being?” He introduces several opposing viewpoints and promptly refutes them. The two that will be primarily focused on are the ideas of the dependence on the mother and the unborn child’s lack of experience.

The first opposition that he presents is the idea that the lack of experience makes the child less human. He rejects the claim that “a being who has had experiences, has lived and suffered, who possesses memories, is more human than one who has not” (Noonan Jr. 354). The opposition claims that because the child has never yet experienced anything (i.e. happiness, sadness, pain, etc.), it is not qualified to be a human. He rejects this idea by emphasizing “the embryo is responsive to touch after eight weeks and at least at that point is experiencing” (Noonan Jr. 354). Even if humanity were determined by experience, babies experience things while in the womb even before birth. It was found that unborn children could differentiate touch from pain in the womb at several weeks into pregnancy and maybe even before then (Ertelt). Therefore, the idea that the unborn child does not experience anything while in the womb is inaccurate. However, the question is: Is the level of experience an accurate way of measuring how human a person is? Would older people be more human than young people? Older adults have been through and experienced more than small toddlers. So according to the objection, the older adults would be more human than the toddlers. The age of the person has no correlation with how human a person is. Therefore, the unborn child in the mother’s womb should not be considered less human than an adult on the basis that experience determines humanity.

The second opposing view that he presents is the idea that because the child is dependent on the mother during early pregnancy, the child is not a “human.” The objection explains, “this dependence is made on the basis of denying recognition to [the unborn child’s] humanity” (Noonan Jr. 353). However, Noonan Jr. asserts that this distinction is not fully valid because “artificial incubation may make the fetus viable at any time” (Noonan Jr. 353). Nowadays, there is more technology to provide a chance for premature babies to survive without fully developing in the mother’s womb. He mainly argues against this opposition by asserting that the dependency of the child does not end after birth. He claims that “ the fetus is still absolutely dependent on someone care in order to continue existence” (Noonan Jr. 354). After the birth of the child, do the parents just let the child grow on its own without any assistance? Of course not, that would be child neglect; if this were the case, no one would be alive today. The notion that a child’s dependency on the mother to live determines how human it is not valid. Babies and even small children are completely dependent on others to live. Since they cannot fend for themselves, they rely on others entirely.

Noonan Jr. compelling argument against abortion provides great retribution for the opposition’s arguments. An unborn child is no less human than a person who has had more experience or is “less dependent” on the mother. The child has the potential to grow up and become someone but abortion takes that away in a matter of minutes. Despite others attempts to define humanity, an unborn child is human regardless simply because it has the potential to become an experienced and independent human being.


Works Cited

Ertelt, Steven. “Study: Unborn Babies Can Differentiate Touch, Pain in Womb.” N.p., 09 Sept. 2011. Web. 08 Nov. 2014.

Noonan Jr., John T. “Abortion is Morally Wrong.” Famine, Affluence, and Morality. N.p. 353-357. Print.

Worship and Moral Autonomy

In “God and Moral Autonomy,” James Rachel argues that God cannot exist based on the following argument:

  1. “If any being is God, he must be a fitting object of worship.
  2. No being could possibly be a fitting object of worship, since worship requires the abandonment of one’s role as an autonomous moral agent.
  3. Therefore, there cannot be any being who is God.” (Rachel 119)

Moral autonomy is the ability to choose what is right or wrong by oneself. Rachel claims that since worship requires abandoning autonomous moral agency, God cannot exist. But what if a person willingly wants to worship God and follow His commands? What Rachel failed to realize was that worshipping God is the choice of the autonomous moral agent and can decide to follow morals out of respect for moral duty. They may try to align their morals with the morals of a higher being (God) which there bases on what is right or wrong. They are not abandoning their moral agency; instead, they are basing their moral beliefs on the morals of God, which is a decision that they made for themselves. Rachel assumes that if a person worships God, then he or she is abandoning their freedom to make their own set of morals, but he did not realize that many moral autonomists who worship God as a moral duty chose to follow his commands on their own.

It can be argued that “the more people decide to integrate the duties of God into their moral beliefs, the freer, and more autonomous they become” (“James Rachels Argument From Moral Autonomy”). The duties of God are not meant to oppress or take away a person’s autonomy. A person controls whether or not they want to take part in the religion and if they want to obey the commands. When people follow their integrate the teaching of a religion to their own morals, they will not feel like they are doing wrong and it will not go agains their morals or the moral law of God.

For example, imagine that someone joins the Ku Klux Klan (KKK). They voluntarily align their morals with that of the group. They do not abandon their morals; they voluntarily base their morals more with what the group’s morals are. An autonomous moral agent who chooses to worship does not abandon his or her moral autonomy; instead, he/she freely chooses to adopt the group’s morals and now decide on what is morally right or wrong based on the alignment with their beliefs and the group’s beliefs.

Rachel’s claim that worshipping God requires for a person to abandon their autonomous moral agency is not true, therefore, it cannot be used in the argument to conclude that God is not real. The claim that God does not exist because Worship requires abandoning autonomous moral agency does not hold true, therefore making the conclusion invalid.

Works Cited

“James Rachels Argument From Moral Autonomy.” Philosophy, Theology, History, Science, Big Questions. 22 Nov. 2011. Web. 20 Sept. 2014. <>.

Rachels, James. “God and Moral Autonomy.” Can Ethics Provide Answers? (1997): 109-123. Blackboard. Web. 20 Sept. 2014.