Early Abortion and Personal Ontology

Acta Analytica 28 (1):19-30 (2013)
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We are beings endowed with “personal capacities”—the capacity for reason, for a concept of self, perhaps more. Among ontologically salient views about what else we are, I focus on the “Big Three.” According to animalism, we are animals that have psychological properties only contingently. According to psychologistic materialism, we are material beings; according to substance dualism, we are either immaterial beings or composites of immaterial and material ones; but according to both psychologistic materialism and substance dualism, we essentially have some psychological properties. I argue that—contrary to what has been argued and is natural to think—none of the Big Three yields different assignments of moral status to early fetuses from any of the others, and consequently the moral status of early abortion doesn’t depend on which (if any) of these views of personal ontology is correct



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Eugene Mills
Virginia Commonwealth University