Utilitas 19 (2):131-159 (2007)
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It is sometimes suggested that if a moral theory implies that infanticide can sometimes be permissible, that is sufficient to discredit the theory. I argue in this article that the common-sense belief that infanticide is wrong, and perhaps even worse than the killing of an adult, is challenged not so much by theoretical considerations as by common-sense beliefs about abortion, the killing of non-human animals, and so on. Because there are no intrinsic differences between premature infants and viable fetuses, it is difficult to accept that an abortion performed after the point of viability can be permissible while denying that infanticide can be permissible for a comparably important reason. This and other challenges to the consistency of our intuitions exert pressure on us either to accept the occasional permissibility of infanticide or to reject liberal beliefs about abortion



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Jeff McMahan
Oxford University

References found in this work

Modern Moral Philosophy.G. E. M. Anscombe - 1958 - Philosophy 33 (124):1 - 19.
The basis of moral liability to defensive killing.Jeff McMahan - 2005 - Philosophical Issues 15 (1):386–405.
The Moral Significance of Birth.José Luis Bermúdez - 1996 - Ethics 106 (2):378 - 403.

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