David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (Cambridge University Press, 2007) Francis Beckwith argues that fetuses are such that, from conception, they are prima facie wrong to kill. He thinks abortion is almost never permissible beyond rare cases where, unless the fetus is killed, both the pregnant woman and the fetus will die. He defends his view not from religiously-justified premises but by appealing to “a particular metaphysics of the human person” that he calls “The Substance View.” I will argue that such metaphysics is irrelevant to the morality of abortion. Beckwith’s metaphysics thereby neither supports, nor detracts from, his abortion ethic. Moral, not metaphysical, assumptions drive the argument, and Beckwith inadequately defends these assumptions. Indeed, they are often false, and his main argument is unsound. (130 words).
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