"Common Arguments about Abortion" and "Better (Philosophical) Arguments About Abortion"

Introduction to Ethics: An Open Educational Resource (2019)
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Two chapters -- "Common Arguments about Abortion" and "Better (Philosophical) Arguments About Abortion" -- in one file, from the open access textbook "Introduction to Ethics: An Open Educational Resource" edited by Noah Levin. Adults, children and babies are arguably wrong to kill, fundamentally, because we are conscious, aware and have feelings. Since early fetuses entirely lack these characteristics, we argue that they are not inherently wrong to kill and so most abortions are not morally wrong, since most abortions are done early in pregnancy before consciousness and feeling develop in the fetus. Furthermore, since the right to life is not the right to someone else’s body, fetuses might not have the right to the pregnant woman’s body, and so she has the right to not allow the fetus use of her body; this further justifies abortion, at least, until technology allows for the removal of fetuses to other wombs. Since morally permissible actions should be legal, abortions should be legal. In the course of arguing for these claims, we: discuss how to best define abortion; dismiss many common “question-begging” arguments that merely assume their conclusion, instead of giving genuine reasons for them; refute some often-heard “everyday arguments” about abortion; explain why some influential philosophical arguments against abortion are unsuccessful; provide some positive arguments that at least early abortions are not wrong; briefly discuss the ethics and legality of later abortions, and more. Little of this discussion should be taken as absolute “proof” of anything, as this is merely a reasoned introduction to the issues: much more needs to be discussed, always.

Author Profiles

Nathan Nobis
Morehouse College
Kristina Grob
University Of South Carolina Sumter


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