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Fetal Pain: An Infantile Debate

8 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2004  

Stuart W. G. Derbyshire

University of Pittsburgh - MR Research Center


The question of whether a fetus can experience pain is an immense challenge. The issue demands consideration of the physical and psychological basis of being and the relation between the two. At the center of this debate is the question of how it is that we are conscious, a question that has inspired the writing of some of our most brilliant contemporary philosophers and scientists, with one commentary suggesting surrender. In my earlier review, I attempted to draw together the various strands of thinking that had attacked the question of fetal pain and relate them back to the bigger question of consciousness. In their vituperative response, Benatar and Benatar bite off my finger before looking to where I am pointing. I will examine each of their criticisms and attempt to redirect the readers' interest towards examining the subjectivity of pain and the mediating links between physiology and experience.

Suggested Citation

Derbyshire, Stuart W. G., Fetal Pain: An Infantile Debate. Bioethics, Vol. 15, pp. 77-84, January 2001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=526627

Stuart W. G. Derbyshire (Contact Author)

University of Pittsburgh - MR Research Center ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15260
United States
412-647-9711 (Phone)
412-647-9800 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.mrctr.upmc.edu/people/derby.html

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