Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Philosophical Review: Vol. 117, Issue 3, May 2008

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Philosophical Review: Vol. 117, Issue 3, May 2008

Article excerpt

The Egg and I: Conception, Identity, and Abortion, EUGENE MILLS

Suppose you and I are "human beings" in the sense of human "animals," members of the genus "Homo." Given this supposition, this article argues first and foremost that (it's at least very plausible that) we originated not at the moment of our biological conception but either before or after. Biological conception is most plausibly seen as a momentous event in the continuing life of a preexisting organism--the egg--rather than a cataclysmic event ending one life and creating another. This article considers and rebuts the most likely challenges to this claim. This metaphysical point carries moral freight concerning abortion. This article surveys familiar "pro-life" principles and argues that if any of them raises moral qualms about the permissibility of aborting zygotic pregnancies, then these qualms apply equally (or at least almost equally) to the permissibility of contraception and abstinence. Hence no such principle provides a justification for condemning zygotic abortion while condoning abstinence or contraception.

Saying Good-bye to the Direct Argument the Right Way, MICHAEL MCKENNA

Peter van Inwagen contends that if the facts of the past and the laws of nature entail every truth about what one does, and no one is even in part morally responsible for the past and the laws, then no one is even in part morally responsible for what one does. This argument, the Direct Argument, has drawn various critics. This article considers two notable efforts, one by John Martin Fischer and Mark Ravizza and another by David Widerker. …

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