Why arguments against infanticide remain convincing
Rodger (Daniel), Blackshaw (Bruce P.) & Wilcox (Clinton)
Source: Bioethics. 2018;00:1–5
Paper - Abstract

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Authors’ Abstract

  1. In 'Pro-life arguments against infanticide and why they are not convincing' Joona Räsänen1 argues that Christopher Kaczor2's objections to Giubilini and Minerva3's position on infanticide are not persuasive.
  2. We argue that Räsänen's criticism is largely misplaced, and that he has not engaged with Kaczor's strongest arguments against infanticide.
  3. We reply to each of Räsänen's criticisms, drawing on the full range of Kaczor's arguments, as well as adding some of our own.

Authors’ Introduction
  1. Giubilini and Minerva’s well-known article ‘After-birth abortion4: why should the baby live?’ presents a case for their view that ‘killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion5 would be’. They label infanticide as ‘after-birth abortion’6 to emphasize the moral equivalence between it and abortion7, based on their belief that fetuses8 and infants have similar moral status, lacking the cognitive properties necessary to be regarded as persons with an accompanying right to life.
  2. An early chapter in Kaczor’s most recent edition of his book ‘The Ethics of Abortion’9 addresses infanticide, and in it he briefly offers four objections to Giubilini and Minerva’s arguments.
  3. Räsänen’s paper consists of a detailed examination of each of Kaczor’s objections, but Räsänen seems unaware that Kaczor is not mounting a comprehensive attack on Giubilini and Minerva in the few pages of this short critique. Kaczor provides additional support for his objections later in the same chapter, but Räsänen does not address the points raised. Additionally, many of the detailed arguments Kaczor subsequently develops against abortion10 are equally applicable against infanticide, and so his four objections taken in isolation are not representative of the true strength of his case against infanticide.
  4. Here we reply to each of Räsänen’s objections, drawing on the full range of Kaczor’s arguments, as well as adding some of our own.

Authors’ Conclusion
  1. Räsänen has criticized four objections Kaczor offers to Giubilini and Minerva’s defense of infanticide. We have argued that these objections, taken in isolation, do not comprise a full representation of Kaczor’s case against infanticide. Although Kaczor is primarily developing a case against abortion11, the majority of his arguments are also applicable to infanticide, and when combined with his four objections, present a powerful case for it being morally impermissible.
  2. Räsänen concludes by stating ‘if we want to reject the permissibility of infanticide, we must find better arguments for it’. We disagree strongly on several points. We have explained in detail how Kaczor in fact provides excellent arguments for rejecting infanticide, contrary to this claim.
  3. Additionally, permitting infanticide is a hugely controversial position that is against the status quo. The burden of proof is on proponents such as Räsänen to find better arguments in favor of it.


Sub-title: "A reply to Räsänen"

In-Page Footnotes

Footnote 1: Räsänen, J. (2016). Pro-life arguments against infanticide and why they are not convincing. Bioethics, 30, 656-662.

Footnote 2: Kaczor, C. (2015). Ethics of abortion (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Footnote 3: "Giubilini (Alberto) & Minerva (Francesca) - After-birth abortion: why should the baby live?"

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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