This is a philosophical examination of certain issues of applied ethics, based on my more theoretical work Morality, Mortality. Here I deal primarily with the moral issue of abortion, as well as self-defense, euthanasia, and pregnancy. This book began as a relatively short section of Morality, Mortality, but when that book grew beyond a reasonable size, the short section was cut and became this book. Derek Parfit, the editor of the series in which Morality, Mortality is to appear, kindly permitted me to publish the material separately.
This book was prompted by my attempt to understand and modify Judith Thomson's most important discussion of abortion, "A Defense of Abortion". Her discussion is irreplaceable and unique. It was kind of her to encourage my project.
I have benefited from the helpful suggestions regarding recent versions of this book given to me by Derek Parfit, Thomas Scanlon, Judith Thomson, Shelly Kagan, Dennis Thompson, Bruce Ackerman, Jonathen Bennett, Tony Kronman, Michael Stocker, Owen Fiss, Richard Fallon, Seana Shiffrin, and those others who are credited in footnotes. Kagan made especially detailed remarks on organization. I thank Ronald Dworkin and Lawrence Sager for insightful discussions. Many years ago I wrote a paper on abortion for a class of Robert Nozick's, whose help I then greatly appreciated.
I am indebted to Thomas Nagel for his continuing support and encouragement and the intellectual standards he sets.
I also would like to thank Drs. Kenneth Ryan and Rapin Osathanondh, as well as the staff and patients, for making possible my observation of abortions at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.