A fallacy in potentiality

Dialogue 46 (1):137-150 (2007)
Abstract
A popular response to proponents of embryonic stem cell research and advocates of abortion rights alike-summarized by claims such as “you came from an embryo!” or “you were afetus once!”-enjoys a rich philosophical pedigree in the arguments of Hare, Marquis, and others. According to such arguments from potentiality, the prenatal human organism is morally valuable because every person’s biological history depends on having completed embryonic and fetal stages. In this article I set out the steps of the underlying argument in light of how it has been cast in the philosophical literature and uncover an intriguingly illicit inference.On répond souvent aux avocats de la recherche sur les cellules souches et à ceux du droit a l’avortement par une argumentation qui se résume à des affirmations comme : «vous provenez d’un embryon!» ou «vous avez déjà été un fœtus!» -- ce genre de réponse appartient à une riche lignée philosophique qui inclut les arguments de Hare, Marquis et d’autres encore. Selon ces arguments fondés sur la potentialité, l’organisme humain prénatal possède une valeur morale parce que l’histoire biologique de chaque personne dépend de l’accomplissement des états embryonnaire et fœtal. Je présente ici les étapes du raisonnement qui se trouve au fondement de cette argumentation telle qu’elle est formulée dans la littérature philosophique. J’y découvre une inférence curieusement invalide
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References found in this work BETA
R. M. Hare (1975). Abortion and the Golden Rule. Philosophy and Public Affairs 4 (3):201-222.
Don Marquis (1989). Why Abortion is Immoral. Journal of Philosophy 86 (4):183-202.
Jim Stone (1987). Why Potentiality Matters. Canadian Journal of Philosophy 17 (December):815-829.
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