August 9 2019

12 Pro-Choice Arguments for Slavery

12 Pro-Choice Arguments for Slavery

  • The problem with slavery is that when it’s illegal it drives it underground. We need to remove it from the criminal law and make it a matter of civil regulation.
  • If we ban slavery, do you know how many slave owners may get harmed or arrested from illegally trying to keep slaves?
  • If we don’t allow the slave trade, people will just go to a nearby country that does.
  • Those who claim that slaves are human beings made in the image of God and deserving of human rights are just using a religious argument.
  • If you disagree with slavery, don’t own one!
  • Forcing slave owners to give up their slaves is robbing them of their financial autonomy.
  • My plantation, my choice!
  • It’s a personal matter, to be decided between a slave-owner and his slave-trader.
  • Slaves can’t survive on their own apart from the resources given by their owners. Until they can, they are just a clump of cells.
  • Some slave owners just can’t financially survive without slaves. Banning slavery just hurts the poor.
  • Unless you own a plantation, you have no right to have an opinion on slavery.
  • Can you believe we are still being limited by an archaic law criminalising slavery in Australia that was introduced way back in 1833??
The Violinist Slave

And one final illustration…

Let me ask you to imagine this.

You wake up in the morning and find yourself back to back in bed with an unconscious slave. A famous unconscious violinist slave.

He has been found to have a fatal kidney ailment, and the Emancipation Society has canvassed all the available medical records and found that you alone have the right blood type to help. They have therefore kidnapped you, and last night the slave’s circulatory system was plugged into yours, so that your kidneys can be used to extract poisons from his blood as well as your own.

The director of the hospital now tells you, “Look, we’re sorry the Emancipation Society did this to you–we would never have permitted it if we had known. But still, they did it, and the slave is now plugged into you. To unplug you would be to kill him. But never mind, it’s only for nine months. By then he will have recovered from his ailment, and can safely be unplugged from you.”

Now, here is my question…

Are you morally obligated to accept this situation?

No doubt it would be very nice of you if you did, a great kindness. But do you have to accept it?

Shouldn’t you be free to unplug yourself from this slave?

And not just that. Shouldn’t you be free to kill the slave in whatever way seems best to you? Shouldn’t you be free to suck him up a tube or have his limbs dismembered and his skull crushed if that’s the most efficient way to be free?

Even if you discover that the slave is not just some random stranger, but as it turns out, your own flesh and blood. Your own son in fact. Even if you are the slave’s mother, shouldn’t you be free from any obligation to him? Shouldn’t you have the freedom to kill your son to gain your freedom from your son?

Even if your son the slave actually was not taken from another place and unnaturally attached to you, but naturally came into being attached to you, shouldn’t you be able to claim he has no right to be there? Even if he could not actually be expected to be anywhere else, shouldn’t you have the right to kill him?

Even if (in over 95% of cases) the Emancipation Society did not actually attach this slave to you against your will, but you were also responsible for him being attached. Even though only the slave is the true innocent victim in this scenario, shouldn’t you be free to kill him if you now want to be free of that attachment?

The answer is obvious.


If you were not aware, the above illustration is my parody of the famous pro-choice thought experiment, often called “The Violinist”.

The original was written in 1971 by Judith Jarvis Thomson in the introduction to her essay “A Defense of Abortion” and despite its glaringly obvious flaws (which my parody has attempted to highlight) it is still today often presented as the knock-out pro-choice argument.

Acknowledgments also to David Ould & Jereth Kok for contributing a couple of the “Pro-Choice arguments for slavery”.

If you can think of any more, please write them in the comments.

Or if you are pro-choice and think that the parallel I have suggested that exists between abortion and slavery is an unfair one, please comment as well.

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Posted August 9, 2019 by Simon in category "Abortion", "Debate", "Society

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