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The Substance View: A Critique (Part 3)

Bioethics 31 (4):305-312 (2017)

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  1. The Moral Significance of Abortion Inconsistency Arguments.William Simkulet - 2021 - Asian Bioethics Review 14 (1):41-56.
    Most opponents of abortion believe fetuses matter. Critics argue that OA act inconsistently with regards to fetal life, seeking to restrict access to induced abortion, but largely ignoring spontaneous abortion and the creation of surplus embryos by IVF. Nicholas Colgrove, Bruce Blackshaw, and Daniel Rodger call such arguments inconsistency arguments and contend they do not matter. They present three objections to these arguments — the other beliefs, other actions, and hypocrisy objection. Previously, I argued these objections fail and threaten to (...)
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  • Prolife Hypocrisy: Why Inconsistency Arguments Do Not Matter.Nicholas Colgrove, Bruce Philip Blackshaw & Daniel Rodger - 2020 - Journal of Medical Ethics (Online First):1-6.
    Opponents of abortion are often described as ‘inconsistent’ (hypocrites) in terms of their beliefs, actions and/or priorities. They are alleged to do too little to combat spontaneous abortion, they should be adopting cryopreserved embryos with greater frequency and so on. These types of arguments—which we call ‘inconsistency arguments’—conform to a common pattern. Each specifies what consistent opponents of abortion would do (or believe), asserts that they fail to act (or believe) accordingly and concludes that they are inconsistent. Here, we show (...)
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  • The Problem of Spontaneous Abortion: Is the Pro-Life Position Morally Monstrous?Bruce P. Blackshaw & Daniel Rodger - 2019 - The New Bioethics 25 (2):103-120.
    A substantial proportion of human embryos spontaneously abort soon after conception, and ethicists have argued this is problematic for the pro-life view that a human embryo has the same moral status as an adult from conception. Firstly, if human embryos are our moral equals, this entails spontaneous abortion is one of humanity’s most important problems, and it is claimed this is absurd, and a reductio of the moral status claim. Secondly, it is claimed that pro-life advocates do not act as (...)
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  • The Inconsistency Argument: Why Apparent Pro-Life Inconsistency Undermines Opposition to Induced Abortion.William Simkulet - forthcoming - Journal of Medical Ethics:medethics-2020-107207.
    Most opposition to induced abortion turns on the belief that human fetuses are persons from conception. On this view, the moral status of the fetus alone requires those in a position to provide aid—gestational mothers—to make tremendous sacrifices to benefit the fetus. Recently, critics have argued that this pro-life position requires more than opposition to induced abortion. Pro-life theorists are relatively silent on the issues of spontaneous abortion, surplus in vitro fertilisation human embryos, and the suffering and death of born (...)
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  • Two Tragedies Argument: Two Mistakes.William Simkulet - 2019 - Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (8):562-564.
    Most opposition to abortion turns on the claim that human fetuses are full moral agents from conception. Critics argue that antiabortion theorists act hypocritically when they neglect spontaneous abortions—valuing some fetal lives and not others. Many philosophers draw a distinction between killing and letting die, with the former being morally impermissible and latter acceptable. Henrick Friberg-Fernros appeals to this distinction with his Two Tragedies Argument, contending that anti-abortion theorists are justified in prioritising preventing induced abortions over spontaneous ones, as the (...)
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  • The Ethics of Killing: Strengthening the Substance View with Time-Relative Interests.Bruce P. Blackshaw - 2019 - The New Bioethics (Online):1-17.
    The substance view is an account of personhood that regards all human beings as possessing instrinsic value and moral status equivalent to that of an adult human being. Consequently, substance view proponents typically regard abortion as impermissible in most circumstances. The substance view, however, has difficulty accounting for certain intuitions regarding the badness of death for embryos and fetuses, and the wrongness of killing them. Jeff McMahan’s time-relative interest account is designed to cater for such intuitions, and so I present (...)
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