This month, the Philosopher’s Eye is inviting discussion on our free article “Killing, Letting Die and the Morality of Abortion”. But for many of us, our position on abortion is not one that we easily submit to philosophical scrutiny. When we question this reluctance, we might find that it rises because our position on abortion is entailed by other ethical commitments; we are first and foremost defenders of a woman’s right to determine the fate of her own body, or the right to life, or perhaps even both at once. It is easier for us to leave the questions specific to abortion largely unexamined, appealing instead to background values.
‘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.
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.