Abortion and Infanticide: a Radical Libertarian Defence

8 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2019 Last revised: 3 Nov 2020

Date Written: October 16, 2019


There is an outline of the libertarian approach this takes. On the assumption of personhood, it is explained how there need be no overall inflicted harm and no proactive killing with abortion and infanticide. This starts with an attached-adult analogy and transitions to dealing directly with the issues. Various well-known criticisms are answered throughout. There is then a more-abstract explanation of how it is paradoxical to assume a duty to do more than avoid inflicting overall harm and, instead, positively benefit. A putative counterexample is explained away. A positive theory of intellectual personhood is defended in principle but not made precise, which is sufficient to be practical. The greater moral value of intellectual-personhood is defended. An important putative reductio of the potential-personhood argument is refuted. Several further criticisms that apply to both types of defences are then answered. It is concluded that this different and radical approach is more likely to be error-prone. But conjectural explanations are all we ever have, and criticisms are always necessary to test them.

Keywords: abortion, infanticide, libertarianism, personhood, Don Marquis, Judith Jarvis Thomson, Mary Anne Warren

Suggested Citation

Lester, J. C., Abortion and Infanticide: a Radical Libertarian 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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