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A Critical Examination of Dworkin’s Value-Argument Concerning Abortion

  • Korean Journal of Medical Ethics
  • Abbr : 의료윤리
  • 2018, 21(3), pp.179-198
  • DOI : 10.35301/ksme.2018.21.3.179
  • Publisher : The Korean Society For Medical Ethics
  • Research Area : Medicine and Pharmacy > General Medicine
  • Received : May 27, 2018
  • Accepted : August 20, 2018
  • Published : September 30, 2018

Kim, Sang Deuk 1

1전북대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

Abortion raises two distinct but related ethical issues: one concerns the moral status of a fetus; the other concerns the conflict between the rights of a fetus and those of a pregnant woman. While conservatives claim that a fetus has a right to life, which outweighs a woman’s right to bodily autonomy, liberals who support abortion rights focus rather on the meaning of pregnancy for women. Dworkin argues against both the liberal and the conservative views, claiming that each is inconsistent with our considered moral judgements. He claims that a fetus has, not rights, but rather intrinsic value, and different views on the intrinsic value of fetal life give rise to different views on the morality of abortion. This argument from Dworkin, which I call the “value-argument,” is critically examined in this essay. While the value-argument helps to explain our considered moral judgements concerning abortion and integrates the two aforementioned problems into one, the “intrinsic value problem,” it fails to resolve the ethical problem of abortion. Rather than justifying its central claim that a fetus has some intrinsic value, Dworkin presupposes it as a working hypothesis. Nor does he provide objective criteria for evaluating the intrinsic value of a fetus. As such, Dworkin does not present a unique position on the ethics of abortion but rather explains why differences of opinion concerning abortion arise. This critical examination of the value-argument concludes that rather than solving the moral problem of abortion Dworkin merely provides an analysis of it.

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