David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 30 (3):285 – 304 (2005)
Two different discussions in John Rawls' A Theory of Justice lead naturally to a rather conservative position on the moral status of the human embryo. When discussing paternalism, he claims that the parties in the original position would seek to protect themselves in case they end up as incapacitated or undeveloped human beings when the veil of ignorance is lifted. Since human embryos are examples of such beings, the parties in the original position would seek to protect themselves from their embryonic stages onward. When discussing the basis of equality, Rawls claims that the parties in the original position would guarantee basic rights for all those with the capacity to take part in this original position. To guarantee the basic rights of infants and young children, he goes on to interpret this capacity as a "potentiality that is ordinarily realized in due course." Since human embryos have this potentiality, they too should have basic rights.
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D. Robert MacDougall (2010). Rawls and the Refusal of Medical Treatment to Children. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 35 (2):130-153.
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