Does a Fetus Already Have a Future-Like-Ours
McInerney (Peter K.)
Source: Journal of Philosophy 87.5, May 1990, pp. 264-268
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. Some of the most interesting and underexplored issues in philosophy are those of how human beings are in time. A person's relationship to her future is very complex, particularly if time passes, as we commonsensically believe that it does. In "Marquis (Don) - Why Abortion is Immoral", Don Marquis' argues that what makes killing a person wrong is that it deprives the person of her future. He concludes that abortion1 is wrong because it deprives the fetus2 of a "future-like-ours." The line of argument is clear.
      The future of a standard fetus3 includes a set of experiences, projects, activities, and such which are identical with the futures of adult human beings and are identical with the futures of young children. Since the reason that is sufficient to explain why it is wrong to kill human beings after the time of birth is a reason that also applies to fetuses4, it follows that abortion5 is prima facie seriously morally wrong (192).
  2. The unexamined premise in the argument is that a fetus6 already has a future-like-ours of which it can be deprived. For the argument to be convincing, it is necessary that a fetus7 at its time "possess" or be related to a future-like-ours in a way that allows the transfer from the wrongness of killing us persons to the wrongness of killing fetuses8.
  3. Fetuses9 are very different from normal adult humans. The connections between a fetus10 at an earlier time and a person (or person stage) at a significantly later time are very different from the connections between the person stages at different times which compose one person. Philosophical investigations of personal identity through time have revealed the complexity of the biological and psychological connections between the earlier and later stages of one person. These significant differences invalidate the claim that a fetus11 has a personal future in the same way that a normal adult human has a personal future.

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