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Published: Boonin’s Defense of the Sentience Criteria – A Critique

July 12th, 2009 by Matt

We just discovered that if you go to Ethics and Medicine – An International Journal of Bioethics and click on “current issue” (VOLUME 25:2 SUMMER 2009) you will see that my article “Boonin’s Defense of the Sentience Criteria – A Critique” is now in print. It is always nice to finally see a publication in print as it can take along time from submission to acceptance til publication.

Journal of Ethics and Medicine

I have written to the editor and asked if I can put a copy of the article on this blog. Until I hear back I will leave you with the abstract and encourage you buy a copy of the journal or locate it at your library.

Defenders of the permissibility of feticide commonly argue that killing an organism is not homicide unless the organism’s brain has developed enough for it to acquire sentience: the capacity for consciousness and the ability to perceive pleasure and pain. In this paper I will critique one of the more sophisticated versions of this argument that proposed by David Boonin in A Defense of Abortion. In I I will sketch some prima facie problems faced by any appeal to sentience. In section II I will examine Boonin’s attempt to defend an appeal to sentience against these problems by contructing a modified future like ours (FLO) account of the wrongness of killing. I will argue that Boonin’s modified future like ours (FLO) defence of sentience fails. Both his argument for the modified FLO account and his application of this account to feticide rest on ad hoc arbitrary manoeuvres, manoeuvres which mean that the modified FLO account is a plausible criteria for the right to life only if one already grants that feticide is not homicide.

RELATED POSTS:
Some Thoughts on Human Embryonic Stem-cell Research
Is Abortion Liberal? Part 1
Is Abortion Liberal? Part 2
Sentience Part 1
Sentience Part 2
Viability
Abortion and Brain Death: A Response to Farrar
Abortion and Capital Punishment: No Contradiction
Imposing You Beliefs Onto Others: A Defence

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