Does the morality of abortion depend on the moral status of the human fetus? Must the law of abortion presume an answer to the question of when personhood begins? Can a law which permits late abortion but not infanticide be morally justified? These are just some of the questions this book sets out to address. With an extended analysis of the moral and legal status of abortion, Kate Greasley offers an alternative account to the reputable arguments of Ronald Dworkin and (...) Judith Jarvis Thomson and instead brings the philosophical notion of 'personhood' to the foreground of this debate. Structured in three parts, the book will consider the relevance of prenatal personhood for the moral and legal evaluation of abortion; trace the key features of the conventional debate about when personhood begins and explore the most prominent issues in abortion ethics literature: the human equality problem and the difference between abortion and infanticide; and examine abortion law and regulation as well as the differing attitudes to selective abortion. The book concludes with a snapshot into the current controversy surrounding the scope of the right to conscientiously object to participation in abortion provision. (shrink)
This book features opening arguments followed by two rounds of reply between two moral philosophers on opposing sides of the abortion debate. In the opening essays, Kate Greasley and Christopher Kaczor lay out what they take to be the best case for and against abortion rights. In the ensuing dialogue, they engage with each other's arguments and each responds to criticisms fielded by the other. Their conversational argument explores such fundamental questions as: what gives a person the right to life? (...) Is abortion bad for women? What is the difference between abortion and infanticide? Underpinned by philosophical reasoning and methodology, this book provides opposing and clearly structured perspectives on a highly emotive and controversial issue. The result gives readers a window into how moral philosophers argue about the contentious issue of abortion rights, and an in-depth analysis of the compelling arguments on both sides. (shrink)
The article considers the objection to a commercial market in living donor organs for transplantation on the ground that such a market would be exploitative of the vendors. It examines a key challenge to that objection, to the effect that denying poor people the option to sell an organ is to withhold from them the best that a bad situation has to offer. The article casts serious doubt on this attempt at justifying an organ market, and its philosophical underpinning. Drawing, (...) in part, from the catalogued consequences of a thriving kidney market in some parts of India, it is argued that the justification relies on conditions which are extremely unlikely to obtain, even in a regulated donor market: that organ selling meaningfully improves the material situation of the organ vendor. Far from being axiomatic, both logic and the extant empirical evidence point towards the unlikelihood of such an upshot. Finally, the article considers a few conventional counter-arguments in favour of a permissive stance on organ sales. (shrink)
Some recent scholarship in the philosophy of criminal law has claimed that sexual penetration ‘per se’—meaning, consensual or otherwise—is pro tanto morally wrong, or that there exist ‘general reasons’ against it. On such a view, penetrative sex is only ever at best justified wrongdoing. When paired with an influential view about the theoretical basis of the offence-defence distinction in criminal law, the apparent implication is that sexual penetration alone ought to constitute the actus reus of rape, with the question of (...) consent relegated to a defence matter. This article firstly sets out some of the difficult upshots of considering all sexual penetration to be pro tanto wrong, particularly when one attends to the full moral entailments of justified wrongdoing. Assuming, arguendo, that sexual penetration is pro tanto wrong, it is also far from clear, I suggest, that consent, of all things, amounts to a justification for penetrative sex. This creates further difficulties for the pro tanto wrong view. Finally, I argue that even if penetrative sex is a pro tanto moral wrong of some kind, it does not follow, as some scholars have suggested, that there is a case for making penetrative sex as such the offence element of rape. (shrink)
The article considers three theses about postabortion regret which seek to illustrate its pertinence to reasoning about abortion, and which are often deployed, either explicitly or implicitly, to dissuade women out of that reproductive choice. The first is that postabortion regret renders an abortion morally unjustified. The second is that that a relatively high incidence of postabortion regret—compared with a lower incidence of postnatal regret in the relevant comparator field—is good evidence for the moral impermissibility of abortion choice. The third (...) is that high rates of postabortion regret suggest that abortion is not the most prudent or welfare-maximising choice for the woman concerned. All three theses argue for the compellingness of knowledge about postabortion regret in moral and practical reasoning about abortion, especially from the pregnant woman's point of view. This article argues that all three theses are flawed. In particular, it seeks to remind readers that feelings of regret directed at past decisions are often decoupled from the fact of the matter about their moral or rational justification. Moreover, certain features of reproductive decisions in particular make regret an especially unsuitable yardstick for actual justification in this context, and even less epistemically reliable as evidence for a lack of justification than it may be in other fields of decision-making. The implication is that rates of postabortion regret, even if they can be presumed to be higher than rates of postnatal regret, are not as pertinent to moral and practical reasoning about abortion as is sometimes suggested. (shrink)
The contributions in this volume represent a detailed exploration of the salient legal and theoretical puzzles arising out of the body-as-property question, and a collation of the broad spectrum of analyses on offer.
This article critiques the recent House of Lords decision, R(Purdy) v DPP, and explores the wider debate over the legalization of assisted suicide, with particular focus on assistance in ‘suicide-tourism’. It proceeds in roughly two parts. In the first part, I seek to make the case that it was not legally necessary for the Lords to order that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) clarify his long-standing policy of not prosecuting those who compassionately assist loved ones to travel abroad to (...) die. On the purely legal merits of the case, the Lords’ hands were not ‘tied’, so to speak, and I will attempt to show that a closer analysis of the argumentation leading to the decision will expose its errors in this respect. This conclusion will then open up the normative question of whether clarification of the DPP’s policy is a progressive development. I suggest that in light of the special practical and ethical considerations at stake, the DPP’s previous practice of turning a blind eye to instances of assisted suicide bearing out certain features—whilst not clarifying his policy to this effect—was the most satisfactory one, and that the Lords’ decision was hence a retrograde step. (shrink)
The paper comments briefly on the recent controversy surrounding the criminal prosecution and conviction of rogue abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell in the USA, for, among other things, the murder of infants born alive. Without contesting the disturbing nature of the crimes committed by Gosnell and his colleagues, it critiques a few ways in which opponents of abortion have sought to use the case as ammunition against the legal provision of abortion and against the morality of all abortion.
The article engages with some of the main claims in chapter 1 of Seana Shiffrin’s book Speech Matters. There, Shiffrin sets out a case for a general moral prohibition on lying, based on the conditions required for reliable speech, and circumscribes the permissible falsehoods that could be uttered to would-be moral criminals, such as Kant’s familiar murderer at the door. I raise a few questions about the case for the general moral prohibition on lying and about Shiffrin’s basis for distinguishing (...) between the sorts of lies that, on her view, one is and is not permitted to tell would-be moral criminals so as to avert harm. (shrink)
In the wake of three high-profile judicial decisions concerning the use of human biological materials, the editors of this collection felt in 2011 that there was a need for detailed scholarly exploration of the ethical and legal implications of these decisions. For centuries, it seemed that in Australia and England and Wales, individuals did not have any proprietary interests in their excised tissue. Others might acquire such interests, but there had been no clear decision on the rights or otherwise of (...) the persons from whom the tissue was obtained. In 2009, however, the Court of Appeal of England and Wales recognised a limited exception to this position in Jonathan Yearworth and others v North Bristol NHS Trust . In that case, the Court held that the appellants, who had deposited semen samples for freezing before they undertook treatment for cancer, had “for the purposes of a claim in negligence … ownership of the sperm which they had ejaculated”. One year later, the Supreme Court of Queensland, Australia, took a similarly property-based approach to determining how a semen sample stored shortly before death should be dealt in Bazley v Wesley Monash IVF . According to that court, the co-executors of the estate had sufficient proprietary interests in the semen to legally demand its return from the laboratory where it was held. In 2011, the New South Wales Supreme Court similarly found that the widow of a recently deceased man had a right to possession of his semen in Joceyln Edwards; Re the estate of the late Mark Edwards .In the editors’ view, these decisions signalled a turning point in the Anglo-Australian jurisprudence in this area, taking the law a step beyond the decisions of the late 20th century such as R v Kelly , in which possessory rights were found …. (shrink)