Harming the Non-conscious
Persson (Ingmar)
Source: Bioethics, 13.3-4, July 1999
Paper - Abstract

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Philosophers Index Abstract

  1. Peter Singer has argued that nothing done to a fetus1 before it acquires consciousness can harm it.
  2. At the same time, he concedes that a child can be harmed by something done to it when it was a non-conscious fetus2.
  3. But this implies that the non-conscious fetus3 can be harmed.
  4. The mistake lies in thinking that, since existence can be intrinsically bad for a being only if it is conscious, it can be harmed only if it is conscious.
  5. In fact, its being harmed only implies that it could have been conscious (and led a good life).

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