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Cudd, Ann E., , . Enforced Pregnancy, Rape, and the Image of Woman
1990, Philosophical Studies, 60 (1-2): 47-59.
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Summary: In this essay, Cudd argues that enforced pregnancy constitutes a group harm against women, harming even women who are not forced to carry a fetus to term against their will. In this essay, she develops a theoy of group harm, arguing that forced pregnancy constitutes a similar sort of group harm as rape. Ultimately, she claims that both rape and enforced pregnancy constitute a group harm via degredation of a class (women) and an individual harm via the individual negative effects caused by enforced pregnancy.

Comment: This text serves as a good introduction to the idea of a group harm. Further, it would fit well in a class that covers the ethics of sex, sexual violence, pregnancy, or abortion. If you plan to utilize this reading in the context of a biomedical ethics course covering abortion, it would be helpful to have first covered other classical readings on the topic (Marquis and Thomson, at least).

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English, Jane, , . Abortion and the Concept of a Person
1975, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 5(2): 233-243.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: William Bauer

Introduction: The abortion debate rages on. Yet the two most popular positions seem to be clearly mistaken. Conservatives maintain that a human life begins at conception and that therefore abortion must be wrong because it is murder. But not all killings of humans are murders. Most notably, self defense may justify even the killing of an innocent per- son.

Liberals, on the other hand, are just as mistaken in their argument that since a fetus does not become a person until birth, a woman may do whatever she pleases in and to her own body. First, you cannot do as you please with your own body if it affects other people adversely. Second, if a fetus is not a person, that does not imply that you can do to it anything you wish. Animals, for example, are not persons, yet to kill or torture them for no reason at all is wrong.

At the center of the storm has been the issue of just when it is between ovulation and adulthood that a person appears on the scene. Conservatives draw the line at conception, liberals at birth. In this paper I first examine our concept of a person and conclude that no single criterion can capture the concept of a person and no sharp line can be drawn. Next I argue that if a fetus is a person, abortion is still justifiable in many cases; and if a fetus is not a person, killing it is still wrong in many cases. To a large extent, these two solutions are in agreement. I conclude that our concept of a person cannot and need not bear the weight that the abortion controversy has thrust upon it.

Comment: This is a classic article on the topic of abortion. English argues that the concept of a person is vague and complex, thus she has a more nuanced approach to personhood than some other theorists. She applies this theory to abortion, arguing that degree of personhood correlates with degree of permissibility of abortion. So her paper can be contrasted with, e.g., Thomson (who isn’t concerned with personhood) and Warren (who takes a stricter approach to personhood and a wide view of the permissibility of abortion). It also is useful to contrast with Tooley’s account.

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Foot, Philippa, , . The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect
1967, Oxford Review 5:5-15, reprinted in Virtues and vices. Oxford: Blackwell.
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Introduction: One of the reasons why most of us feel puzzled about the problem of abortion is that we want, and do not want, to allow to the unborn child the rights that belong to adults and children. When we think of a baby about to be born it seems absurd to think that the next few minutes or even hours could make so radical a difference to its status; yet as we go back in the life of the foetus we are more and more reluctant to say that this is a human being and must be treated as such. No doubt this is the deepest source of our dilemma, but it is not the only one. For we are also confused about the general question of what we may and may not do where the interests of human beings conflict. We have strong intuitions about certain cases; saying, for instance, that it is all right to raise the level of education in our country, though statistics allow us to predict that a rise in the suicide rate will follow, while it is not all right to kill the feeble-minded to aid cancer research. It is not easy, however, to see the principles involved, and one way of throwing light on the abortion issue will be by setting up parallels involving adults or children once born. So we will be able to isolate the ‘equal rights’ issue and should be able to make some advance.

Comment: The text introduces some crucial distinctions, discussing the difference between ‘doing’ and ‘allowing to happen’ and the related negative and positive duties. Foot argues that what matters in the Doctrine is not the directness of the actor’s intention, but whether they intend to follow a negative or positive duty. This paper is most useful in teaching on the ethics of abortion and euthanasia, as well as the doctrine of double effect in general.

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Foot, Philippa, , . Virtues and Vices
1978, Oxford University Press.
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Added by: Laura Jimenez, Contributed by: Nomy Arpaly

Publisher’s Note: This collection of essays, written between 1957 and 1977, contains discussions of the moral philosophy of David Hume, Immanuel Kant, Friedrich Nietzsche, and some modern philosophers. It presents virtues and vices rather than rights and duties as the central concepts in moral philosophy. Throughout, the author rejects contemporary anti? naturalistic moral philosophies such as emotivism and prescriptivism, but defends the view that moral judgements may be hypothetical rather than (as Kant thought) categorical imperatives. The author also applies her moral philosophy to the current debates on euthanasia and abortion, the latter discussed in relation to the doctrine of the double effect. She argues against the suggestion, on the part of A. J. Ayer and others, that free will actually requires determinism. In a final essay, she asks whether the concept of moral approval can be understood except against a particular background of social practices.

Comment: Foot stands out among contemporary ethical theorists because of her conviction that virtues and vices are more central ethical notions than rights, duties, justice, or consequences. Since the author discusses multiple relevant topics (abortion, euthanasia, free will/determination, and the ethics of Hume and Nietzsche) this book is a really complete reading for Ethics courses. The book can be used in both, undergraduate and postgraduate courses, but the last eight essays are more suitable for postgraduates.

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Haramia, Chelsea, , . Applied Ethics
2018, 1000-Word Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by: Nathan Nobis

Abstract: To date, there are several areas of applied ethical study. Given their situational nature, they are often distinct from one another, though they regularly employ similar methods detailed here. Applied ethicists qua applied ethicists are more concerned with particular cases than with more abstract theoretical questions. They aim to apply their ethical training to the study of actual ethical situations, and to draw conclusions about the moral status of scenarios that people out in the world actually encounter, and of situations that have real, practical import.

Comment: An overview of the nature of applied or practical ethics.
[This is a stub entry. Please add your comments to help us expand it]

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Harman, Elizabeth, , . Creation Ethics: The Moral Status of Early Fetuses and the Ethics of Abortion
1999, Philosophy and Public Affairs 28 (4):310-324.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Introduction: There has been considerable discussion of the moral status of early fetuses and the ethics of the choice whether to abort a pregnancy. But one tenable view about the moral status of early fetuses has been regularly ignored. As a consequence, a very liberal view about the ethics of abortion is more attractive than has previously been thought. Let us use the term ‘early fetus’ as follows: (1) ‘early fetus’: a fetus before it has any intrinsic properties that themselves confer moral status on the fetus. I assume that there is a nonnegligible period of time in which fetuses are early fetuses in my sense; it may be as short as a few weeks or as long as several months, depending on which intrinsic properties can them- selves confer moral status. One plausible view says that an early fetus is a fetus before it has any conscious experience and before it can properly be described as the subject of experience.

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Hursthouse, Rosalind, , . Beginning lives
1987, Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
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Added by: Simon Fokt, Contributed by:

Back matter: In this text book Rosalind Hursthouse examines the complex questions surrounding the morality of abortion. Beginning by discussing the moral status of the foetus, she outlines and criticizes the main philosophical liberal positions on abortion, discussing alsl their bearing on the related issues of ifanticide, foetal research, surrogacy, murder and our treatment of animals. In place of the currently prevailing positions, the author offers a novel approach to these issues based on the recently revived theory of neo–Aristotelianism which emphasizes moral virtues and vices.

A central element of Beginning Lives is its emphasis on the special nature of abortion: its unique relation to the facts of women′s pregnancies and hence to our attitudes to childbearing, motherhood, maturity and sexual relations.

Comment: The first chapters provide an excellent overview of the main topics in the abortion debate. Chapter 3 is particularly useful in teaching, as it offers a response to personhood accounts – it can be used in conjunction with Tooley’s ‘Abortion and Infanticide’ (1972). Chapter 5 presents an in-depth discussion of women’s rights and is useful in teaching on ethical issues related to abortion, but can also provide excellent support for teaching about feminism or human rights in general.

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Hursthouse, Rosalind, , . Virtue, Theory and Abortion
1991, Philosophy & public affairs 20(3): 223-246.
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Abstract: The sort of ethical theory derived from Aristotle, variously described as virtue ethics, virtue-based ethics, or neo-Aristotelianism, is becoming better known, and is now quite widely recognized as at least a possible rival to deontological and utilitarian theories. With recognition has come criticism, of varying quality. In this article I shall discuss nine separate criticisms that I have frequently encountered, most of which seem to me to betray an inadequate grasp either of the structure of virtue theory or of what would be involved in thinking about a real moral issue in its terms. In the first half I aim particularly to secure an understanding that will reveal that many of these criticisms are simply misplaced, and to articulate what I take to be the major criticism of virtue theory. I reject this criticism, but do not claim that it is necessarily misplaced. In the second half I aim to deepen that understanding and highlight the issues raised by the criticisms by illustrating what the theory looks like when it is applied to a particular issue, in this case, abortion.

Comment: Most useful as further reading in two contexts: (1) the ethics of abortion and the use of virtue ethics in determining its moral status; (2) virtue ethics, its relations with deontology and utilitarianism, and objections against it, with a discussion of the problem of abortion supporting the value of the neo-Aristotelian theory.

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Inness, Julie C., , . Privacy, Intimacy, and Isolation
1996, OUP USA.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Publisher’s Note: This book undermines privacy scepticism, proving a strong theoretical foundation for many of our everyday and legal privacy claims. Inness argues that intimacy is the core of privacy, including privacy appeals in tort and constitutional law. She explores the myriad of debates and puts forth an intimacy and control-based account of privacy which escapes these criticisms.

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Jackson, Jennifer, , . Ethics in medicine: Virtue, Vice and Medicine
2006, Cambridge: Polity.
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Publisher: How, in a secular world, should we resolve ethically controversial and troubling issues relating to health care? Should we, as some argue, make a clean sweep, getting rid of the Hippocratic ethic, such vestiges of it as remain? Jennifer Jackson seeks to answer these significant questions, establishing new foundations for a traditional and secular ethic which would not require a radical and problematic overhaul of the old.
These new foundations rest on familiar observations of human nature and human needs. Jackson presents morality as a loose anatomy of constituent virtues that are related in different ways to how we fare in life, and suggests that in order to address problems in medical ethics, a virtues–based approach is needed. Throughout, attention is paid to the role of philosophy in medical ethics, and how it can be used to clarify key notions and distinctions that underlie current debates and controversial issues. By reinstating such concepts as justice, cardinal virtue, and moral duty, Jackson lays the groundwork for an ethics of health care that makes headway toward resolving seeming dilemmas in medical ethics today.
This penetrating and accessible book will be invaluable to students of sociology and health care, as well as those who are interested in the ethical uncertainties faced by the medical world.

Comment: Particularly useful in teaching is Chapter 10 which discusses abortion, reviewing arguments made by J.J. Thompson and M. Tooley, and enquiring into what makes killing wrong. Chapter 9 looks at distributive justice in medicine, reviewing some problematic cases and distinguishing between bad luck and injustice. Chapter 5 treats on conscientious objection and issues related to toleration and imposition of values.

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Jackson, Jennifer C., , . Toleration in the Abortion Debate
1992, In: Bromham D.R., Dalton M.E., Jackson J.C., Millican P.J.R. (eds) Ethics in Reproductive Medicine. Springer, London pp 189-200
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Added by: Barbara Cohn, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Abstract: What methods, what strategies, is it defensible for us to employ when campaigning on a contentious moral issue? What kinds of intolerance may we legitimately manifest towards the opposition in our endeavour to win converts and influence opinion? Could we be justified in refusing on principle even to engage with the opposition in public debate? And what of the legitimacy of ‘playing’ on people’s emotions, or of not correcting misinformation put about by some of our supporters which helps our cause? Or, in making use of premises in argument that our opponents accept but we do not or, of appealing to arguments that we know to be invalid but by which the opposition may be taken in?

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Kantymir, Lori, , Carolyn McLeod. Justification for Conscience Exemptions in Health Care
2013, Bioethics 28 (1): 16-23.
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Added by: Rochelle DuFord, Contributed by:

Abstract: Some bioethicists argue that conscientious objectors in health care should have to justify themselves, just as objectors in the military do. They should have to provide reasons that explain why they should be exempt from offering the services that they find offensive. There are two versions of this view in the literature, each giving different standards of justification. We show these views are each either too permissive (i.e. would result in problematic exemptions based on conscience) or too restrictive (i.e. would produce problematic denials of exemption). We then develop a middle ground position that we believe better combines respect for the conscience of healthcare professionals with concern for the duties that they owe to patients. Our claim, in short, is that insofar as objectors should have to justify themselves, they should have to do it according to the standard that we defend rather than according to the standards that others have developed.

Comment: This text responds to two proposals for justifying concientious objection in the provision of health care services: genuineness and reasonableness. It would fit well within a course on medical ethics or bioethics. It also would fit well within a more general course on professional ethics, as it concerns the question of when a professional is able to justify the omission of an action that they are bound by professional duty to complete.

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Kornegay, R. Jo, , . Hursthouse’s Virtue Ethics and Abortion: Abortion Ethics without Metaphysics
2011, Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 14(1): 51-71.
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Added by: Nick Novelli, Contributed by:

Abstract: This essay explicates and evaluates the roles that fetal metaphysics and moral status play in Rosalind Hursthouse’s abortion ethics. It is motivated by Hursthouse’s puzzling claim in her widely anthologized paper Virtue Ethics and Abortion that fetal moral status and (by implication) its underlying metaphysics are in a way, fundamentally irrelevant to her position. The essay clarifies the roles that fetal ontology and moral status do in fact play in her abortion ethics. To this end, it presents and then develops her fetal metaphysics of the potential and actual human being, which she merely adumbrates in her more extensive treatment of abortion ethics in her book Beginning Lives. The essay then evaluates her fetal ontology in light of relevant research on fetal neural and psychological development. It concludes that her implied view that the late-stage fetus is an actual human being is defensible. The essay then turns to the analysis of late-stage abortions in her paper and argues that it is importantly incomplete.

Comment: This paper provides a detailed analysis and critique of Rosalind Hursthouse’s argument in ‘Virtue Ethics and Abortion’. As Hursthouse’s paper is frequently taught, this article would provide a good counterpoint to it. This dialogue could form part of an examination of the practical application of virtue ethics, or as part of an examination of the applied ethics of abortion from alternative ethical perspectives. This paper is suitable for undergraduate or graduate teaching.

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Lambert-Beatty, Claire, , . Twelve Miles: Boundaries of the New Art/Activism
2008, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 33(2): 309-327.
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Added by: Rossen Ventzislavov, Contributed by:

Summary: Lambert-Beatty explores the limits of art activism through a detailed account of Rebecca Gomperts’ Women on Waves project. Starting in 2001, Gomperts – a physician with a background in art – sailed a customized maritime gynecological clinic with a crew from the Netherlands to the coastal areas of countries where abortion had been outlawed. The clinic would dock far enough from the shore (twelve miles being the limit of states’ naval jurisdictions) to offer healthcare to local women undisturbed. Lambert-Beatty notes that for all of its political import, the project retains a radical imagination of the poetic kind. Considering its enthusiastic reception by the international artworld, and inclusion in major art exhibitions, it is also clear that Gomperts intended the work at least partially as art. And, yet, Women on Waves challenges notions of the aesthetic as the “retreat from the real” that it is so often seen as. Lambert-Beatty sees the pragmatic aspect of the work as an integral part of its beauty, and vice versa. This symbiotic balance seems to resolve the tension Ranciere finds “between the logic of art that becomes life at the price of abolishing itself as art, and the logic of art that does politics on the explicit condition of not doing it at all.”

Comment: This text is best used in discussions of the relationship between art and political activism. It can also be used as a case study in applied ethics classes on abortion.

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Little, Margaret Olivia, , . Abortion
2008, In R. G. Frey & Christopher Wellman (eds.), A companion to applied ethics. Malden: Wiley. pp. 313-325.
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Added by: Clotilde Torregrossa, Contributed by: Simon Fokt

Introduction: It is often noted that public discussion of the moral status of abortion is disappointingly crude. The positions staked out and the reasoning proffered seem to reflect little of the subtlety and nuance – not to mention ambivalence – that mark more private reflections on the subject. Despite attempts by various parties to find middle ground, the debate remains largely polarized: at its most dramatic, with extreme conservatives claiming abortion to be the moral equivalent of murder, even as extreme liberals think it devoid of moral import.To some extent, this polarization is due to the legal battle that continues to shadow moral discussions. Admission of ethical nuance, it is feared, will play as concession on the deeply contested question of whether abortion should be a legally protected option for women. But, to some extent, blame for the continued crudeness can be laid at the doorstep of moral theory itself.

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