The Moral Significance of Birth
Bermudez (Jose Luis)
Source: Ethics, 106, No. 2, Jan., 1996, pp. 378-403
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Philosophers Index Abstract

    This paper challenges the claim that there can be no morally relevant difference between a fetus1 just about to be born, and that same fetus2 just after it has been born, on the other. Attention is drawn to recent and important work in developmental psychology, which suggests that a primitive form of self-awareness can be ascribed to infants engaging in neonatal imitation behavior. It is argued that this bestows derivative moral significance on the lives of neonates, in virtue of the intrinsic moral significance that attaches to the lives of fully self-conscious beings.

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