Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Response to commentaries on ‘Expressivism at the beginning and end of life’
  1. Philip Reed
  1. Philosophy, Canisius College, Buffalo, NY 14208, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Philip Reed, Philosophy, Canisius College, Buffalo, NY 14208, USA; reedp{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

I appreciate all of the commentaries for their careful and thoughtful engagement with my article. Because of limited space, I can only focus on some criticisms and cannot develop my responses as fully as I would like. This is probably best for the reader anyway.

John Keown worries about the ‘dualism’ of the third objection against expressivism. By this I think he means that critics of the expressivist argument at the beginning of life view a certain class of human beings as ‘non-persons’ and therefore not worthy of protection (‘dualism’ thus refers to two classes of human beings). Obviously, a pro-life stance will take issue with classifying the unborn as non-persons, as defenders of selective abortion and other biotechnologies do, but I did not think it relevant to get into the weeds on this issue. Keown claims that the worrisome dualism views those with intellectual disabilities, whether ‘newborns or adults’, as non-persons who lack a right not to be killed. However, I do not think defenders of either selective abortion or assisted suicide are committed to this. Many would insist (whether they are justified in doing this is another matter) that once you are born, you are a person and therefore cannot …

View Full Text


  • Funding The author has not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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

  • If the concept of disability cannot be coherently unified, as Reynolds claims, then the mere difference view of disability is in even deeper trouble than problems about the impermissibility of causing disability.

Linked Articles