Perdure and Murder
Hershenov (David)
Source: American Philosophical Association Newsletter on Philosophy and Medicine, 2011
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction1

  1. The rich resources of the Four-Dimensional metaphysics have been brought to bear upon many traditional philosophical problems in recent years. Alas, the implications of Four-Dimensionalism for bioethics have gone largely unexplored. Hud Hudson is the rare exception.
  2. Relying upon a FourDimensional metaphysics of temporal parts and a belief in unrestricted composition, he argues that there is little reason to identify the perduring human embryonic2 animal and the perduring human person.
  3. He makes the intriguing claim that if abortion3 is wrong, then it is not because the human animal4 within its mother’s womb is a person. This he rightly claims “is a very significant result” for “an overwhelming amount of the literature on abortion5 and infanticide (as well as much of the public debate on these topics) seems to turn on the question of whether or not the human fetus6 is a person.” [3, p. 153].
  4. However, I am going to argue that one doesn’t have to reject unrestricted composition and the FourDimensionalist claim that things perdure to consider mindless embryonic7 human animals8 to be persons. Thus if abortion9 is wrong, it may be due, in part, to the mindless embryo10 being identical to a later thinking person.


For the full text, see Hershenov - Perdure and Murder.

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: There’s an end-note to the effect that “an earlier and longer version of this paper which will appear as "Hershenov (David) - Embryos, Four-Dimensionalism and Moral Status".”

Text Colour Conventions (see disclaimer)

  1. Blue: Text by me; © Theo Todman, 2019
  2. Mauve: Text by correspondent(s) or other author(s); © the author(s)

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