Abortion and Infanticide: a Radical Libertarian Defence

In Charles Tandy (ed.), Death And Anti-Death, Volume 19: One Year After Judith Jarvis Thomson (1929-2020). Ria University Press. pp. 139-152 (2021)
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1. First there is an outline of the libertarian approach taken here. 2. On the assumption of personhood, it is explained how there need be no overall inflicted harm and no proactive killing with abortion and infanticide. This starts with an attached-adult analogy and transitions to dealing directly with the issues. Various well-known criticisms are answered throughout. 3. There is then a more-abstract explanation of how it is paradoxical to assume a duty to do more than avoid inflicting overall harm and, instead, positively benefit. A putative counterexample is explained away. 4. A positive theory of intellectual personhood is defended in principle, but not made precise, which is sufficient to be practical. The greater moral value of intellectual-personhood is defended. An important putative reductio of the potential-personhood argument is refuted. 5. Several further criticisms that apply to both types of defences are answered. 6. Conclusion.

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J. C. Lester
London School of Economics


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