Does a Normal Foetus Really Have a Future of Value? A Reply to Marquis

Bioethics 19 (2):131–45 (2005)
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The traditional approach to the abortion debate revolves around numerous issues, such as whether the fetus is a person, whether the fetus has rights, and more. Don Marquis suggests that this traditional approach leads to a standoff and that the abortion debate “requires a different strategy.” Hence his “future of value” strategy, which is summarized as follows: (1) A normal fetus has a future of value. (2) Depriving a normal fetus of a future of value imposes a misfortune on it. (3) Imposing a misfortune on a normal fetus is prima facie wrong. (4) Therefore, depriving a normal fetus of a future of value is prima facie wrong. (5) Killing a normal fetus deprives it of a future of value. (6) Therefore, killing a normal fetus is prima facie wrong. In this paper, I argue that Marquis’s strategy is not different since it involves the concept of person—a concept deeply rooted in the traditional approach. Specifically, I argue that futures are valuable insofar as they are not only dominated by goods of consciousness, but are experienced by psychologically continuous persons. Moreover, I argue that his strategy is not sound since premise (1) is false. Specifically, I argue that a normal fetus, at least during the first trimester, is not a person. Thus, during that stage of development it is not capable of experiencing its future as a psychologically continuous person and, hence, it does not have a future of value.

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Author's Profile

Rob Lovering
College of Staten Island (CUNY)

Citations of this work

Killing and Impairing Fetuses.Prabhpal Singh - 2022 - The New Bioethics 28 (2):127-138.

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References found in this work

Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind.John R. Searle - 1983 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind.John R. Searle - 1983 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Abortion and infanticide.Michael Tooley - 1972 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 2 (1):37-65.
Intentionality, an Essay in the Philosophy of Mind.Andrew Woodfield - 1986 - Philosophical Quarterly 36 (143):300-303.
Intentionality: An Essay in the Philosophy of Mind.Richard E. Aquila - 1985 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 46 (1):159-170.

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