Abortion and Virtue Ethics

In Stephen Napier (ed.), Persons, Moral Worth, and Embryos: A Critical Analysis of Pro-Choice Arguments. Springer (2011)
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In this paper I discuss what contemporary virtue ethics can say about abortion by considering both what has been said and what we may further argue from a virtue-focused perspective. I begin by comparing virtue ethics to the two other dominant approaches in normative ethics and then consider what some important virtue ethicists have said about abortion, especially Rosalind Hursthouse. After recognizing the many contributions her analysis offers, I also note some of the deficiencies in her approach, particularly in her attempt to bracket the problems of fetal status and women’s rights. Finally, in light of these criticisms I attempt to extend a virtue ethics analysis to embrace a more robust recognition of the humanity of the fetus and the attendant demand of a near absolute prohibition on abortion.



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M. T. Lu
University of St. Thomas, Minnesota

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