The Not-So-Prolife Leviathan

Abstract

In an article that appeared in American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Kody Cooper argued that “to be a Hobbesian is to be prolife.” In this essay, I will provide an argument that rebuts Cooper’s prolife interpretation of Hobbes. First, I will argue that Cooper has, without argument, committed an equivocation between a person’s personal identity and his or her organism. Resolving this ambiguity would allow for an interpretation of Hobbes that can consistently reject the notion that the life of a person “begins at conception.” Second, I will show that Cooper fails to take into account the significant costs that are placed upon prospective mothers and is therefore not able to judge whether or not aborting a fetus is within a mother’s enlightened self-interest. Third, I will, contrary to Cooper, show why it may be acceptable for a Hobbesian sovereign to construct a legal regime that is permissive of abortion.

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Shane Courtland
University of Minnesota, Duluth

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