Animality and Agency: A Kantian Approach to Abortion

Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 76 (1):117-37 (2008)
  Copy   BIBTEX

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

Links

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,931

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

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. Edited by J. Douglas Butler.
Abortion, Christianity, and Consistency.Richard Schoenig - 1998 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 5 (1):32-37.

Analytics

Added to PP
2009-01-28

Downloads
446 (#45,624)

6 months
23 (#125,017)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Lara Denis
Agnes Scott College

Citations of this work

A Kantian approach to education for moral sensitivity.Paul Formosa - 2022 - Journal of Philosophy of Education 55 (6):1017-1028.
The Problem of the Kantian Line.Samuel Kahn - 2019 - International Philosophical Quarterly 59 (2):193-217.
Kant's Position on the Wide Right to Abortion.Samuel Kahn - 2024 - Kant Studien 115 (2):203-227.
Kant's formula of the end in itself: Some recent debates.Lara Denis - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (2):244–257.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

No references found.

Add more references