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Moral uncertainty and the moral status of early human life
  1. Michael J Selgelid

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Because a newborn baby does not have sufficiently complex psychological capacities to have a concept of continuation of (its) life, according to Tooley, it cannot desire continuation of (its) life, and thus cannot have a right to it.1 A similar position has been advocated by Kuhse and Singer2 ,3—and, more recently, by Giubilini and Minerva.4

Key assumptions of Tooley are that (1) being able to desire something is a necessary condition of having a right to it and (2) having a concept of something is a necessary condition of being able to desire it. Despite their plausibility, these premises are at least open to question—that is, these are things that there can presumably be reasonable disagreement about. I …

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