Personhood Starts at the Point of Self-consciousness

  • In "Defense of Abortion and Infanticide," Michael Tooley claims that individuals have a right to life only at the point of self-consciousness and an interest in their own continued existence

  • Tooley concludes, therefore, that infanticide is morally acceptable

  • If the individual will, in the future develop such interest, is it permissible to kill the individual before such interests develop? Can fetuses be excluded from allowing such development to occur?

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Slide 45 of 49

Defining personhood on the basis of self-consciousness and an interest in one's own continued existence allows for infanticide, which is exactly what Michael Tooley argues for. However, most people are unwilling to accept such a definition of personhood, since they are able to see exactly what is being killed when the individual is a newborn. What most people don't know is that the fetus looks markedly like a newborn, only smaller, after the first three months of gestation.
Last Modified June 14, 2008


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