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Abortion: Strong’s counterexamples fail
  1. E Di Nucci
  1. E Di Nucci, School of Philosophy, University College Dublin, Dublin 4, Ireland; Ezio.DiNucci{at}ucd.ie

Abstract

This paper shows that the counterexamples proposed by Strong in 2008 in the Journal of Medical Ethics to Marquis’s argument against abortion fail. Strong’s basic idea is that there are cases—for example, terminally ill patients—where killing an adult human being is prima facie seriously morally wrong even though that human being is not being deprived of a “valuable future”. So Marquis would be wrong in thinking that what is essential about the wrongness of killing an adult human being is that they are being deprived of a valuable future. This paper shows that whichever way the concept of “valuable future” is interpreted, the proposed counterexamples fail: if it is interpreted as “future like ours”, the proposed counterexamples have no bearing on Marquis’s argument. If the concept is interpreted as referring to the patient’s preferences, it must be either conceded that the patients in Strong’s scenarios have some valuable future or admitted that killing them is not seriously morally wrong. Finally, if “valuable future” is interpreted as referring to objective standards, one ends up with implausible and unpalatable moral claims.

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Footnotes

  • See Response, p 326

  • Competing interests: None.

  • Provenance and peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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