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Abortion and human nature
  1. D Marquis
  1. Dr D Marquis, Department of Philosophy, 1445 Jayhawk Blvd, Room 3090 University of Kansas Lawrence, Kansas 66045-75, USA; dmarquis{at}

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According to the future of value argument for the immorality of abortion, the best explanation for the presumptive serious wrongness of killing innocent post-natal children and adults is that killing them deprives them of all of the goods of life that they would have experienced had they not been killed. These future goods can be called their “futures of value”. Fetuses have futures (very much!) like ours. Therefore, given some assumptions, ending their lives is seriously presumptively wrong, or so the argument goes.1i

The future of value argument has two parts. (1) It is an account of what is sufficient to make killing presumptively seriously wrong in the cases of all those individuals whom, we all agree, it is wrong to kill. (2) It endorses the implication that it is presumptively seriously wrong to end the life of a fetus. In the first part of this essay I briefly shall discuss the virtues of the future of value account of the wrongness of killing. In the second part I shall discuss how this theory of the wrongness of killing is one aspect of a larger plausible portion of morality. Finally, I shall discuss how, when the future of value account is placed within this larger bit of morality, the relation of the future of value account to some other issues in bioethics can be illuminated.


Although I may, with some justification, be accused of bias in this matter, I believe that the future of value account of the wrongness of killing has a number of virtues.

1. The future of value view is one aspect of a more general understanding of why premature death, whether caused by a human agent or caused by something else, is a misfortune. It reflects why persons who are facing premature death from …

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  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • i The most important assumption is that Thomson-style strategies for defending abortion rights fail. If you don’t share this belief, the conclusion of this essay is, of course, a conditional.

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