The Argument From Creating Brainless Children

In a chapter I recently published-- "The Human Being, A Person of Substance: A Reply to Dean Stretton," in Persons, Moral Worth, and Embryos: A Critical Analysis of Pro-Choice Arguments, edited by Stephen Napier. (Dordrecht: Springer, 2011), 67-83--I respond to criticisms of an argument I have used in several venues, including my 2007 book, Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice (Cambridge University Press). My 2011 defense of that argument--"the argument from creating … [Read more...]

Can the Personhood of the Embryo Be Rejected Based on Supposed Bad Consequences of Believing In It?

Karen, in the combox in a previous post, raises this concern: Persons get to sue.  If this law passes [i.e., the Mississippi personhood amendment], miscarried embryos can sue their mothers for negligence that resulted in the miscarriage. Examples of things that cause early miscarriage are bicycling, horseback riding, breastfeeding, drinking coffee, tea, and alcohol.  Insurance companies face astounding potential liability for covering restaurants or holiday camps that allow women of childbearing … [Read more...]

Robert VerBruggen on Science and Personhood: A Response

Over at National Review's "The Corner," Robert VerBruggen writes: What’s not clear to me, however, is why “distinct DNA” should be the criterion by which we judge personhood for moral and legal purposes. As Reason’s Ronald Bailey has pointed out, 60 to 80 percent of human embryos — post-conception, with distinct DNA — are naturally destroyed by the woman’s body. Are we to see this as a large-scale massacre of human beings, develop drugs to prevent it from happening, and require all women who hav … [Read more...]

Government Forms (or Deforms) Your Soul

That is the title of an article I published last year (vol. 21, no. 5, September 2010) in This Rock (now Catholic Answers Magazine), the magazine of Catholic Answers. It is now available online. Portions of this article are adapted from portions of my most recent book, Politics for Christians: Statecraft as Soulcraft (InterVarsity Press, 2010). Here's how the article begins: “Statecraft,” Aristotle instructed his pupils, “is soulcraft.” What he meant is that the state or government, by its polici … [Read more...]

President Obama: Ex-Liberal

That's the title of my latest entry over at The Catholic Thing. Here's how it begins: President Barack Obama has abandoned liberalism.  What I mean by liberalism is not the political philosophy that we typically associate with left of center politicians and candidates.  The President, of course, remains unabashedly in that camp. What I am referring to you is a particular posture concerning moral questions the President has publicly embraced on several occasions. It is from that liberalism he has … [Read more...]

The Human Being, a Person of Substance

That's the title of a chapter I recently published in the book, Persons, Moral Worth, and Embryos: A Critical Analysis of Pro-Choice Arguments, edited by Stephen Napier. (Dordrecht: Springer, 2011), 67-83. Other contributors in the book include my Baylor colleague Alexander Pruss as well as Jason T. Eberl, A. A. Howspeian, Christopher Tollefsen, Helen M. Alvaré, and David Hershenov. You can read my entire chapter via Google Books here. Here's how the chapter begins (citations omitted): Over the p … [Read more...]

Libertarians for Life: A Nice Resource

You can find their website here. … [Read more...]

Thomson’s “A Defense of Abortion” at Forty

That's the title of my latest entry over at The Catholic Thing. It is adapted from portions of my August 3, 2011 presentation at the University of Colorado symposium commemorating the 40th anniversary of Thomson’s article. Here's an excerpt: What Thomson is granting, then, is a view of personhood consistent with the pro-life position only insofar as it is aligned with a minimalist understanding of autonomy and choice. That view isolates the individual from other persons – generationally, contem … [Read more...]

August 3 Symposium on the 40th anniversary of Judith Jarvis Thomson’s “A Defense of Abortion”

Tomorrow, August 3, I will be at the University of Colorado in Boulder participating in a symposium on the 40th anniversary of Judith Jarvis Thomson article, "A Defense of Abortion," published in 1971 in Philosophy and Public Affairs. (For more on the symposium, go here. It is open to the public.) What makes Thomson's argument so important is that she grants to the prolifer his most pivotal premise, that the pre-born human is a person from conception, but nevertheless concludes that abortion is … [Read more...]

Defending Abortion Philosophically: A Review of David Boonin’s A Defense of Abortion

That is the title of a 2006 article I published in the Journal of Medicine & Philosophy (31: 177-203).  Here's the abstract, as it appears on the article's first page: This article is a critical review of David Boonin’s book, A Defense of Abortion (Cambridge University Press, 2002), a significant contribution to the literature on this subject and arguably the most important monograph on abortion published in the past twenty years. Boonin’s defense of abortion consists almost exclusively of so … [Read more...]


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