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Heloise Robinson argues that pregnant women have a higher moral status than non-pregnant persons and that, for this reason, pregnant women ought to be treated ‘noticeably’ better than non-pregnant persons.1
In this commentary, we present two challenges to Robinson’s argument. First, the compounding disadvantage objection: treating involuntarily, non-pregnant women worse than voluntarily pregnant women unjustly compounds their disadvantage. Second, the identity objection: treating non-pregnant people worse than pregnant people amounts to pro tanto wrongful discrimination based on a fundamental aspect of people’s identity. We conclude that either pregnant persons do not have a higher moral status than non-pregnant persons, or they do, but higher moral status so grounded does not justify better treatment.
According to the standard view of moral status: (1) most human beings are persons; (2) persons have a higher moral status than non-persons; and (3) persons have an equal moral status. Many believe: (1) is true because most human beings have a sufficiently high level of personhood-generating psychological capacities; (2) is true because moral status is tied to personhood; and (3) is true because variations in the level of personhood-generating psychological capacities do not matter to an individual’s moral status once that individual’s level surpasses the threshold required for personhood.2 (3) is significant …
Contributors We have all contributed to the commentary. KL-R however is first author.
Funding This study was funded by Danmarks Grundforskningsfond (DNRF144).
Competing interests None declared.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.