a1 University of Maryland, College Park
It is natural for those with permissive attitudes toward abortion to suppose that, if they have examined all of the arguments they know against abortion and have concluded that they fail, their moral deliberations are at an end. Surprisingly, this is not the case, as I argue. This is because the mere risk that one of those arguments succeeds can generate a moral reason that counts against the act. If this is so, then liberals may be mistaken about the morality of abortion. However, conservatives who claim that considerations of risk rule out abortion in general are mistaken as well. Instead, risk-based considerations generate an important but not necessarily decisive reason to avoid abortion. The more general issue that emerges is how to accommodate fallibilism about practical judgment in our decision-making.
(Online publication June 24 2011)
Dan Moller is assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Maryland College Park. Much of his work has focused on moral decision-making and the rational significance of the emotions.
1 Thanks to Peter Singer and Anthony Appiah for helpful comments.