Gift Guide

Abortion: Three Perspectives


Moving beyond traditional "liberal versus conservative" arguments for and against abortion, Abortion: Three Perspectives is an up-to-date, accessible, and engaging exploration of this highly contentious issue. Featuring a triangular debate between four prominent moral and political philosophers, it presents three different political perspectives: Michael Tooley argues the "liberal" pro-choice approach; Philip E. Devine and Celia Wolf-Devine argue the "communitarian" prolife approach; and Alison M. Jaggar argues ...
See more details below
Paperback (New Edition)
$22.54 price
(Save 16%)$26.95 List Price

Pick Up In Store

Reserve and pick up in 60 minutes at your local store

Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (18) from $1.99   
  • New (6) from $12.85   
  • Used (12) from $1.99   
Sending request ...


Moving beyond traditional "liberal versus conservative" arguments for and against abortion, Abortion: Three Perspectives is an up-to-date, accessible, and engaging exploration of this highly contentious issue. Featuring a triangular debate between four prominent moral and political philosophers, it presents three different political perspectives: Michael Tooley argues the "liberal" pro-choice approach; Philip E. Devine and Celia Wolf-Devine argue the "communitarian" prolife approach; and Alison M. Jaggar argues the "gender justice" approach. However, each of the authors' self-identifications is also challenged by one or more of the other authors, who offer alternative interpretations of liberalism, communitarianism, and feminism. All of these viewpoints are controversial, among both philosophers and general readers. Furthermore, because the arguments do not rely on religious authority, they are directed at all readers, regardless of religious affiliation.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195308952
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 1/13/2009
  • Series: Oxford Point/Counterpoint Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 272
  • Sales rank: 1,443,228
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Acknowledgments xiv

Part I

1 Abortion: Why a Liberal View Is Correct Michael Tooley 3

1 Thinking about the Morality of Abortion and Discussing It with Others 3

1.1 Abortion Raises Intellectually Difficult Issues 3

1.2 The Emotionally Charged Atmosphere of Discussions about Abortion 4

1.3 The "Package Deal" Problem 5

1.4 Ethics: Religion or Philosophy? 6

1.5 A Personal Note 7

2 A Brief Overview of My Defense of a Liberal Position on Abortion 8

2.1 The View to Be Defended 8

2.2 The Concept of a Person 9

2.3 The Personhood Argument 10

3 Abortion and the Appeal to Religious Revelation 11

4 The Appeal to an Immaterial, Rational Mind 15

5 The Appeal to Psychological Capacities 20

6 Two Biological Antiabortion Arguments 21

6.1 The Counterexample Objection 21

6.2 The Basic versus Derived Moral Principles Objection 24

6.2.1 Is the Crucial Premise a Basic Moral Principle? 25

6.2.2 Is the Crucial Premise a Derived Moral Principle? 28

6.3 The Reprogramming Objection 30

6.4 A Second Biological Antiabortion Argument 32

7 Potentiality Arguments against Abortion 35

7.1 Arguments in Support of an Affirmative Answer 37

7.2 Arguments in Support of a Negative Answer 42

7.3 Consequentialist and Dentological Approaches to Morality 50

7.4 Summing Up: Potentiality Arguments against Abortion 51

8 The Identity of Persons and Biological Organisms Argument 51

8.1 The Argument 51

8.2 The Unsoundness of This Argument 52

8.2.1 Direct Objections to the Identity Claim 53

8.2.2 Indirect Objections to the Identity Claim 57

8.3 Human Persons and Organisms 58

8.4 The Crucial Moral: Persons and the Right to Continued Existence59

9 Are Moderate Positions on Abortion Tenable? 59

9.1 Does Rudimentary Consciousness Together with Desires Concerning One's Present State Give Something Moral Status? 60

9.2 Does Rudimentary Consciousness Together with Certain Potentialities Give Something Moral Status? 60

9.3 Do Developing Humans Acquire the Capacities for Thought and Self-Consciousness Prior to Birth? 61

9.4 A Final Argument for a Moderate View 62

10 The Moral Status of Abortion: A Final Summing Up 63

Notes 64

2 Abortion: A Communitarian Pro-Life Perspective Celia Wolf-Devine Philip E. Devine 65

1 Where We Are Now 66

2 Methodology 68

2.1 The Importance of Atavistic Responses 68

2.2 Analogical Examples and the Pathological View of Pregnancy 69

2.3 Utilitarianism, Negative Responsibility, and Problems Concerning Reproduction 71

2.4 Virtue Ethics and Ordinary Morality 72

2.5 Communitarianism versus the Volunteer Theory of Obligations 73

3 The Prima Facie Case against Abortion 76

4 The Status of the Unborn 82

4.1 The Humanity of the Fetus 82

4.2 Some Footnotes to the Argument 88

5 The Pregnant Woman 91

5.1 Divisions among Women 91

5.2 The Arguments 92

5.2.1 The Bodily Rights Argument 92

5.2.2 Egalitarian Arguments 95

6 Questions of Law 99

6.1 Roe v. Wade 99

6.2 Toward More Just Laws 101

7 Policy Recommendations 103

7.1 We Must Bring Down the Abortion Rate as Quickly as Possible 103

7.2 How to Go About Bringing Down the Abortion Rate 105

7.2.1 Informed Consent 105

7.2.2 Regulation of Clinics 105

7.2.3 Eliminate All Governmental Funding 106

7.2.4 Parental Notification or Consent 106

7.2.5 Make Resources Available to Support Pregnant Women 107

8 Role and Limits of Philosophy 107

9 Conclusion 109

Notes 110

3 Abortion Rights and Gender Justice Worldwide: An Essay in Political Philosophy Alison M. Jaggar 120

1 Introduction 120

2 Mapping the Philosophical Terrain 121

2.1 Three Philosophical Questions about Abortion 121

2.2 Personal Ethics and Political Morality 123

3 Liberalism and Feminism: Two Thin Commitments of Political Morality 124

3.1 Liberalism 124

3.2 Feminism 126

4 Designing Just Institutions in an Unjust World: Some Methodological Commitments 128

4.1 Philosophical Methodology for the Real World 128

4.2 Real-World Circumstances of Gender Justice 130

4.3 Real-World Abortion 133

5 Some Principles of Political Morality Salient to Abortion in the Real World 135

6 Abortion: Human Rights, Gender Equality, and the Public Good 139

6.1 Abortion and Human Rights 139

6.1.1 Women's Rights Are Human Rights 139

6.1.2 Sexual and Reproductive Rights 141

6.1.3 Rights to Life, Liberty, and Bodily Integrity 143

6.2 Abortion and Gender Equality 146

6.2.1 Abortion and Equality between Men and Women 147

6.2.2 Abortion and Equality among Women 149

6.2.3 Abortion and Gendered Cycles of Inequality 152

6.3 Abortion and the Public Good 152

6.3.1 Abortion and Public Health 152

6.3.2 Abortion, Population, and Economic Development 155

7 Objections to Abortion Rights 156

7.1 Does Abortion Violate a Fetal Right to Life? 156

7.2 Should Moral Considerations Limit the Scope of Abortion Rights? 161

7.3 Does the Public Provision of Abortion Violate Freedom of Conscience? 165

7.3.1 Dissenting Taxpayers 166

7.3.2 Dissenting Medical Personnel and Institutions 166

7.4 Does Abortion Violate Feminist Values? 168

7.5 Does Abortion Encourage Disrespect for Human Life? 172

8 Conclusion 174

Notes 175

Part II

4 Response to Alison M. Jaggar, Celia Wolf-Devine, and Philip E. Devine Michael Tooley 183

Comments on Alison M. Jaggar's Essay 183

Reply to Celia Wolf-Devine and Philip E. Devine 184

1 Species Membership and the Right to Life 185

1.1 The "Mere Assertion" Contention 185

1.2 Species Membership, Method in Ethics, and the Appeal to Moral Intution 187

1.3 Species Membership: Summing Up 191

2 The "Reductio" Objection and the "Change-of-Address" Objection 192

3 Potentialities and the Right to Life 194

Summing Up 197

Notes 197

5 Response to Michael Tooley and Alison M. Jaggar Celia Wolf-Devine Philip E. Devine 198

1 Response to Tooley 198

1.1 The Big Picture 198

1.2 Methodology: Philosophy and Religion 200

1.3 Abortion and Infanticide 201

1.4 The Species Principle 202

1.5 Potentiality Principle 204

2 Response to Jaggar 205

2.1 Liberalism 206

2.2 Feminism 207

2.3 The International Front 210

2.4 The "Real World" 212

2.5 Consequences for Whom? 214

3 A Final Word 215

Notes 216

6 Response to Michael Tooley, Celia Wolf-Devine, and Philip E. Devine Alison M. Jaggar 218

1 Methodology 218

2 Political Philosophy 220

2.1 Political Liberalism 221

2.2 Rights 222

2.3 Communitarinism 223

3 Reality 224

3.1 Evidence 224

3.2 Psychology 225

3.3 Biology 226

3.4 Health 227

3.5 Consent 228

4 Policy 229

5 Sailing under True Colors 231

Notes 232

Bibliography 234

Index 245

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)