Deeper problems for Noonan's probability argument against abortion: On a charitable reading of Noonan's conception criterion of humanity

Bioethics 25 (5):280-289 (2011)
Abstract
In ‘An Almost Absolute Value in History’ John T. Noonan criticizes several attempts to provide a criterion for when an entity deserves rights. These criteria, he argues are either arbitrary or lead to absurd consequence. Noonan proposes human conception as the criterion of rights, and justifies it by appeal to the sharp shift in probability, at conception, of becoming a being possessed of human reason. Conception, then, is when abortion becomes immoral.The article has an historical and a philosophical goal. The historical goal is to carefully present the probability argument in a charitable manner. The philosophical goal is to offer a unique criticism of Noonan's probability argument against abortion. I argue that, even on a very charitable reading of Noonan's argument for the conception criterion, this criterion is also susceptible to charges of arbitrariness and absurdity. Noonan's claim that probability shifts have anything to do with the moral rights of fetuses cannot be made coherent. I also show that there are problems with Noonan's assumptions about moral rights and the potential to become a being possessed of human reason
Keywords rights  abortion  human  potential  probability  Noonan  conception
Categories (categorize this paper)
Options
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
 
Download options
PhilPapers Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 9,360
External links
  • Through your library Configure
    References found in this work BETA

    No references found.

    Citations of this work BETA

    No citations found.

    Similar books and articles
    Analytics

    Monthly downloads

    Added to index

    2009-10-27

    Total downloads

    66 ( #18,338 of 1,088,907 )

    Recent downloads (6 months)

    1 ( #69,666 of 1,088,907 )

    How can I increase my downloads?

    My notes
    Sign in to use this feature


    Discussion
    Start a new thread
    Order:
    There  are no threads in this forum
    Nothing in this forum yet.