It is claimed by the future like ours anti-abortion argument that since killing adult humans is wrong because it deprives them of a future of value and the fetus has a future of value, killing fetuses is wrong in the same way that killing adult human beings is wrong. In The morality of abortion and the deprivation of futures (this journal, April 2000) I argued that the persuasive power of this argument rests upon an equivocation on the term “future of value”. If the expression means “a potential future of value” then the moral claim is implausible because people do not in general have rights to what they need to fulfill their potential; if the expression means “self-represented future of value” then the argument fails because the fetus does not represent its future. Under no interpretation is the argument sound. In Deprivations, futures and the wrongness of killing (this journal, December 2001) Donald Marquis, author of the future like ours argument, responds at length to this objection. In the present essay the focus of the debate shifts to the proper interpretation of the right not to be killed. Donald Marquis argues that this liberty right entails the welfare right to the means necessary to sustain life; I argue that the right not to be killed does not entail unlimited welfare rights. On Marquis's view, the right not to be killed confers upon the fetus the right to whatever it takes to sustain life; on the view I defend, the right not to be killed does not confer upon the fetus or anyone else the right to another person's body. On Marquis's view, abortion is almost never permissible; on my view abortion is almost always permissible.
- future like ours
- Donald Marquis
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