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Abortion and the Epicurean challenge
  1. Karl Ekendahl
  1. Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University, Uppsala 751 26, Sweden
  1. Correspondence to Dr Karl Ekendahl, Department of Philosophy, Uppsala University, Uppsala 751 26, Sweden; karl.ekendahl{at}


In a recent article in this journal, Anna Christensen raises an ‘Epicurean challenge’ to Don Marquis’ much-discussed argument for the immorality of abortion. According to Marquis’ argument, abortion is pro tanto morally wrong because it deprives the fetus of ‘a future like ours’. Drawing on the Epicurean idea that death cannot harm its victim because there is no subject to be harmed, Christensen argues that neither fetuses nor anyone else can be deprived of a future like ours by dying. Thus, Christensen suggests, the moral wrongness of abortion (and other killings) cannot be grounded in the relevant individual’s being deprived of a future like ours. In this reply, I argue that on no interpretation of Christensen’s Epicurean challenge does it succeed.

  • Abortion
  • Death
  • Ethics

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  • Contributors KE is the sole contributor of this essay.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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