Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Against the strengthened impairment argument: never-born fetuses have no FLO to deprive


In order for the so-called strengthened impairment argument (SIA) to succeed, it must posit some reason R that causing fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS) is immoral, one that also holds in cases of abortion. In formulating SIA, Blackshaw and Hendricks borrow from Don Marquis to claim that the reason R that causing FAS is immoral lies in the fact that it deprives an organism of a future like ours (an FLO). I argue here that SIA fails to show that it is immoral to cause FAS and abort fetuses that will not be born because it deprives them of an FLO. This is because fetuses that will not be born have no chance of having an FLO in the first place, so causing FAS for and aborting them cannot deprive them of one. I then consider three responses to my argument. I conclude that each fails. SIA does not accomplish its task of showing why it is immoral to impair fetuses that will not be born. Perhaps it can accomplish the task of showing why it is immoral to impair fetuses that will be born, but not without sacrificing at least some of its alleged significance.

  • abortion
  • ethics

Data availability statement

There are no data in this work.

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.

Other content recommended for you