Hassoun+Infanticide - Journal of Applied Philosophy Vol 25...

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Journal of Applied Philosophy, Vol. 25, No. 1, 2008 © Society for Applied Philosophy, 2008, Blackwell Publishing, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford, OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA. Blackwell Publishing Ltd Oxford, UK JAPP Journal of Applied Philosophy 0264-3758 © Society for Applied Philosophy, 2007 XXX Original Articles Consciousness and the Moral Permissibility of Infanticide Nicole Hassoun and Uriah Kriegel Consciousness and the Moral Permissibility of Infanticide 1 NICOLE HASSOUN AND URIAH KRIEGEL ABSTRACT In this paper, we present a conditional argument for the moral permissibility of some kinds of infanticide. The argument is based on a certain view of consciousness and the claim that there is an intimate connection between consciousness and infanticide. In bare outline, the argument is this: it is impermissible to intentionally kill a creature only if the creature is conscious; it is reasonable to believe that there is some time at which human infants are not conscious; therefore, it is reasonable to believe that it is permissible to intentionally kill some human infants. Introduction In this paper, we present a conditional argument for the moral permissibility of some kinds of infanticide. Although we do not believe our argument will appeal to everyone, we do believe it presents a problem for people with certain antecedent moral commit- ments. The argument is based on a certain view of consciousness and the claim that there is an intimate connection between consciousness and infanticide. In bare outline, the argument is this: it is impermissible to intentionally kill a creature only if the creature is conscious; it is reasonable to believe that there is some time at which human infants are not conscious; therefore, it is reasonable to believe that it is permissible to intentionally kill some human infants. In the first part of the paper, we will develop this argument in greater detail. In the second part, we will address a battery of (possible) objections, both to the argument and to its conclusion. The view that infanticide is permissible is not new, nor is a consciousness-based argument in its favour. 2 Here, however, we hope to string together steps that meticulously and unequivocally lead to this conclusion, and which are grounded in a robust conception of human consciousness. Fleshed out, the argument we will present is this: 1) It is impermissible to intentionally kill a creature T only if T is a person; 2) T is a person only if T is creature-conscious; 3) T is creature-conscious only if T is capable of having mental states that are state-conscious; 4) A mental state M of T is state-conscious only if T is aware of M; 5) T cannot be aware of M without being aware that she herself is in M; 6) T cannot be aware that she herself is in M without possessing a concept of self; 7) It is reasonable to believe that there is some age at which human infants do not possess a concept of self; therefore, 8) It is reasonable to believe that there is some age at which it is permissible to intentionally kill human infants.
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