Animality and Agency: A Kantian Approach to Abortion


Authors
Lara Denis
Agnes Scott College
Abstract
This paper situates abortion in the context of women’s duties to themselves. I argue that Kant’s fundamental moral requirement to respect oneself as a rational being, combined with Kant’s view of our animal nature, form the basis for a view of pregnancy and abortion that focuses on women’s agency and moral character without diminishing the importance of their bodies and emotions. The Kantian view of abortion that emerges takes abortion to be morally problematic, but sometimes permissible, and sometimes even required. I first sketch Kant’s account to duties to oneself, highlighting duties to oneself as an animal and moral being. Next, I discuss pregnancy and the challenges it poses to women’s self-preservation, development, and efficacy as rational human agents. I then give my main argument: that abortion is morally problematic because it is antagonistic to an important subset of morally useful emotions that we have self-regarding duties to protect and cultivate. I argue that self-regarding moral considerations ground a rebuttable deliberative presumption against maxims of abortion for inclination-based ends. Finally, I consider three objections to this account of abortion : that it rests on implausible assumptions about the effects of abortion on women’s morally useful sentiments; that it portrays the virtuous agent’s reasoning about abortion as objectionably self-regarding; and that it fails adequately to recognize the moral significance of the fetus as a potential rational being
Keywords Kantian ethics  abortion  duties to oneself
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1933-1592.2007.00117.x
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 43,952
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Kant's Formula of the End in Itself: Some Recent Debates.Lara Denis - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (2):244–257.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Kant's Ethics and Duties to Oneself.Lara Denis - 1997 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 78 (4):321–348.
Abortion, Society, and the Law.David F. Walbert - 1973 - Cleveland [Ohio]Press of Case Western Reserve University.
Abortion, Christianity, and Consistency.Richard Schoenig - 1998 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 5 (1):32-37.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
363 ( #15,127 of 2,266,543 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
16 ( #49,808 of 2,266,543 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes

Sign in to use this feature