Common Ground on Surgical Abortion?-Engaging Peter Singer on the Moral Status of Potential Persons

Posted: 11 Aug 2009

Abstract

The debate over surgical abortion is certainly one of the most divisive in ethical discourse and for many it seems interminable. However, this paper argues that a primary reason for this is confusion with regard to what issues are actually under dispute. When looking at an entrenched and articulate figure on one side of the debate, Peter Singer, and comparing his views with those of his opponents, one finds that the disputed issue is actually quite a narrow one: the moral status of potential persons. Finding this common ground clears the conceptual space for a fruitful argument: the thesis of which is that most, including Singer, who argue that potential persons do not have full personal moral status fail to make the necessary distinction between natural potential (which confers moral status) and practical potential (which admittedly does not).

Keywords: abortion, common ground, fetus, Peter Singer, potential

Suggested Citation

Camosy, Charles C., Common Ground on Surgical Abortion?-Engaging Peter Singer on the Moral Status of Potential Persons. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, Vol. 33, Issue 6, pp. 577-593, 2008, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1447189 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jmp/jhn032

Charles C. Camosy (Contact Author)

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