Ben Shapiro’s Abortion-Slavery Argument From Analogy

Curtis
Curtis
Nov 16, 2017 · 3 min read

Conservative commentator Ben Shapiro is famous among the so-called pro-life crowd. He is famous due to his typically rigourous arguments employed against his political enemies, usually the left. In order to properly analyse his argument — and arguments in general — one must textualise them in the form of a logical, philosophical argument — something we’ve all probably seen before. Therefore, this treatise will textualise Shapiro’s argument that analogises the legality and morality involved within the issues of abortion and human slavery.

Simply, Shapiro posits that the idea of abortion being morally permissible entails that the slavery of humans is then also morally permissible. He asserts this by the concept of private property; and he arrives at this necessary detail by the commonly used phrase of the so-called pro choice crowd, ‘my body, my choice.’ I agree with Shapiro; the only reason ‘my body, my choice’ has any merit is if the body of the potential mother enables her to ‘own’ the unborn baby, thus confirming it as private property.

In order to establish and textualise Shapiro’s argument, the first premise is necessary:

1. It is morally permissible to do what you want with your private property.

Unless you fundamentally disagree with the idea of private property altogether, this premise is essentially incontestable.

In getting to the detail of the argument, Shapiro — by virtue of private property — examines the following:

  1. It is morally permissible to do what you want with your private property.
  2. The unborn baby is the would-be mother’s private property.
  3. Therefore, it is morally permissible for the would-be mother to abort their unborn baby.

And his argument from analogy arises from his following assertion:

  1. It is morally permissible to do what you want with your private property.
  2. The slave is the slave-owner’s private property.
  3. Therefore, it is morally permissible for the slave-owner to do whatever they want with their slave.

This is a formal argument, and both arguments are logically consistent with one another. But what Shapiro does — and quite subtly — is discuss the notion of person-hood without actually discussing it. A common criticism of this analogy would be aimed towards premise 2; and it would come in a similar form of the following: ‘premise 2 from both arguments are not logically consistent because a slave has person-hood while an unborn-baby does not.’ While this sounds to be a sound refutation, it is anything but. This is because of the authority proposing this counter. Who is saying a slave is a person and an unborn baby is not — because a slave-owner would say that a slave, like the pro-choice proponent toward the unborn baby, does not possess person-hood. Thus, in quite a rhetorical but formal manner, Shapiro is comparing advocates of abortion to advocates of slavery.

While this argument does approach the doorstep of what constitutes person-hood — an age-old philosophical argument — it is formally correct. So, therefore, unless some new revelations arise in the field of person-hood and the science related to it, Shapiro’s argument from analogy is sound insofar as unborn babies are considered to possess person-hood.

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