Defending Abortion Philosophically: A Review of David Boonin's A Defense of Abortion
Beckwith (Francis J.)
Source: Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Apr. 2006, 31.2, pp. 177-203
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Abstract

  1. This article is a critical review of "Boonin (David) - A Defense of Abortion" (Cambridge University Press, 2002), a significant contribution to the literature on this subject and arguably the most important monograph on abortion1 published in the past twenty years.
  2. "Boonin (David) - A Defense of Abortion" consists almost exclusively of sophisticated critiques of a wide variety of pro-life arguments, including ones that are rarely defended by pro-life advocates.
  3. This article offers a brief presentation of the book's contents with extended assessments of those arguments of Boonin's that are his unique contributions to the abortion2 debate and with which the author disagrees:
    1. Boonin's critique of the conception criterion and his defense of organized cortical brain activity as the acquired property that imparts to the fetus3 a right to life:
    2. Boonin's defense of Judith Jarvis Thomson's violinist argument and his distinction between responsibility for existence and responsibility for neediness and its application to pregnancy4.

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2021
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)



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