The Substance View: A Critique

Bioethics 27 (5):263-70 (2013)
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According to the theory of intrinsic value and moral standing called the ‘substance view,’ what makes it prima facie seriously wrong to kill adult human beings, human infants, and even human fetuses is the possession of the essential property of the basic capacity for rational moral agency – a capacity for rational moral agency in root form and thereby not remotely exercisable. In this critique, I cover three distinct reductio charges directed at the substance view's conclusion that human fetuses have the same intrinsic value and moral standing as adult human beings. After giving consideration to defenders of the substance view's replies to these charges, I then critique each of them, ultimately concluding that none is successful. Of course, in order to understand all of these things – the reductio charges, defenders of the substance view's replies to them, and my criticisms of their replies – one must have a better understanding of the substance view as well as its defense. Accordingly, I address the substance view's understanding of rational moral agency as well as present its defense.
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