Abstract

Inspired by Patrick Lee's “A Christian Philosopher's View of Recent Directions in the Abortion Debate,” this essay raises the question of how effective philosophical arguments can be in determining the moral status of legalized abortion. On one hand, Christian philosophers have been successful in explaining both the humanity and the personhood of the unborn child, as well as exposing the incoherence of those who would deny the unborn child's humanity or personhood. Nevertheless, in order to confront the pro-abortion position in its most radical form, a much more complex philosophical argument must be given. Following thinkers such as Alasdaire MacIntyre, Christian philosophers must articulate and promote a philosophical position according to which morality is conceived in richer terms than the mere respecting of individual rights. The social dimension of human nature must be rediscovered in order that the happiness and welfare of others becomes a desirable goal in and of itself. According to a morality where individual rights is the bottom line (for example, that of Judith Jarvis Thompson), women very well may have the right to “extricate” themselves from their pregnancy even when doing so will result in the death of their child. What must be explained, therefore, is the more profound insight that social morality is equally concerned with obligations to others, including those who are most helpless and unable to speak for themselves.

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