There’s an infamous bioethics paper by Giubilini and Minerva called After-birth abortion: why should the baby live? Published in 2013, it explains their view that in all circumstances that abortion is permissible, infanticide is also permissible. This is because they believe that both fetuses and infants are not what philosophers call persons. What is a person? The definition of a person is disputed in ethics, but we use it to mean an entity we grant certain rights to, such as the right to life. Giubilini and Minerva require certain cognitive capacities for recognition as a person, such as self-awareness and being able to value your future.

There have been many replies to Giubilini and Minerva, and amongst them Christopher Kaczor presents four brief objections in his excellent book The Ethics of Abortion. Recently, Joona Räsänen has argued that Kaczor’s arguments are not persuasive in his paper Pro-life arguments against infanticide and why they are not convincing.

Upon reading Räsänen’s paper, we (the PA, Daniel Rodger and Clinton Wilcox) realised that Räsänen had largely ignored Kaczor’s strongest arguments against infanticide, which were not detailed in his criticism of Giubilini and Minerva early in his book. Rather, Kaczor’s case against abortion (which the entire book is concerned with) is equally applicable against infanticide.

Accordingly, we wrote a reply to Räsänen which was accepted by Bioethics and published online in January 2018. In Why arguments against infanticide remain convincing: A reply to Räsänen, we counter each of his criticisms of Kaczor, using the full range of Kaczor’s arguments as well as adding our own thoughts. Please contact the PA if you would like the full paper.

It’s well worth noting that Kaczor has also replied in his recently published paper A dubious defense of ‘after‐birth abortion’: A reply to Räsänen.

 

 

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3 thoughts on “Why arguments against infanticide remain convincing

  1. This whole idea that a human being is not a person (based on age, race, condition of dependency, etc.) is a legal fiction used to justify abortion. In fact, the so-called right to abortion in the US is based on a web of legal fictions. A human being either has human rights or he/she does not. Guess what? Our true rights do not come from government(s), but from God.

    Why bother consulting bio-ethicists or those in academia when so many of these are just rationalizing all the evil things that we demoralized sheep have so cowardly accepted in society in the past few decades?

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    1. As a Christian, I agree that our intrinsic worth is because we are creations of God, and that indeed is one way of grounding our human rights. But in a largely secular society, appealing to a God that many don’t believe in for our human rights is problematic.

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