Journal Club: Killing, Letting Die and the Morality of Abortion

‘The Philosopher’s Eye’ Journal Club will be bringing you top articles for discussion on a regular basis, selected from the prestigious Wiley-Blackwell Philosophy journals. The article will be made free to access for all, and engagement and commentary is encouraged.

This month’s free article is Killing, Letting Die and the Morality of Abortion by Anton Tupa, and was one of the Journal of Applied Philosophy’s most read articles from 2010.

Image: Bill Davenport (2007)
Killing, Letting Die and the Morality of Abortion

ANTON TUPA

abstract David Boonin, in his A Defense of Abortion, argues that abortions that involve killing the foetus are morally permissible, even if granting for the sake of argument that the foetus has a right to life. His primary argument is an argument by analogy to a ‘trolley case’. I offer two lines of counterargument to his argument by analogy. First, I argue that Boonin’s analogy between his trolley case and a normal unwanted pregnancy does not hold. I revise his trolley case in light of my objections. Second, I argue that Boonin’s arguments for the permissibility of killing, when applied to this revised trolley case — and by extension, typical unwanted pregnancies — do not succeed in justifying killing.

Journal of Applied Philosophy

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