Abortion and Infanticide: A Triple Libertarian and Critical-Rationalist Defence

7 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2019 Last revised: 29 Sep 2020

Date Written: October 16, 2019


From libertarian and critical-rationalist assumptions, the moral permissibility of abortion and infanticide can be explained and defended in three principal ways; although non-libertarians and justificationists could also accept these arguments. These include new theories of personhood (in critical-rationalist terms) and harm-infliction (in libertarian terms). The three defences are independent of each other but collectively consistent. 1) The unborn and infant human is not a person in the relevant intellectual and moral sense, because incapable of critically appraising abstract conjectures. 2) There is no overall proactive imposition (harm-infliction), as the unborn or infant human is only denied the benefit of support (and to suppose otherwise is paradoxical). 3) The better overall welfare consequences. Two closely related property and contract issues are briefly addressed. It is concluded that the three complementary arguments may be hard to refute, and that—as is often asserted—accepting abortion but rejecting infanticide is inconsistent.

Keywords: abortion, infanticide, libertarianism, critical rationalism, personhood, harm-infliction, defence

Suggested Citation

Lester, J. C., Abortion and Infanticide: A Triple Libertarian and Critical-Rationalist Defence (October 16, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3470655 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3470655

J. C. Lester (Contact Author)

London School of Economics ( email )

Houghton Street
London, WC2A 2AE
United Kingdom

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