About Me

My photo
Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The supposed rights of the fetus

Since we're talking about abortion and similar issues, here's my take, in an article that I had published in Quadrant, on what I considered at the time to be the most sophisticated arguments against abortion. I followed up with an argument more about stem-cell research (and hence about early embryos) a few years later in The Journal of Medical Ethics - but this is behind a wall.

I still think that what I wrote in Quadrant was pretty good, but of course the debate keeps moving on. My only caveat about the article is that there could be new arguments Out There that I don't consider, in a piece written the best part of a decade ago now.

For those who are not aware of it, my website includes a good sample of the writing I did for Quadrant when it was under the editorship of the late Paddy McGuinness. It also contains other interesting (I hope) stuff, including some fairly comprehensive and nearly-up-to-date bibliographies of my work, so you might want to have a poke around while you're there.


Fiona A said...

A fetus has 'a future like ours' according to Don Marguis?

Charles Sullivan said...

The following paragraph seems to hit the nail on the head, as far as I'm concerned:

"It cannot experience any frustration of its desires, because it has no desires. The mere failure to meet this interest does not inflict any pain. It does not experience fear, so the wrongfulness of our action cannot consist in inflicting upon a entity something that it fears. Nor has it begun a life whose coherence or value may be ruined by being cut short. We do not reveal ourselves as cruel if we terminate the development of a merely potential person painlessly, or with minimal pain. It is difficult, in short, to see why the interest is one that must command our respect. It seems to be a totally theoretical interest. It might unkindly be called a contrived one."