You Can't Always Get What You Want: A Gewirthian Model of Rational Autonomy in Abortion

Clayton Thompson, J. 2015. You Can't Always Get What You Want: A Gewirthian Model of Rational Autonomy in Abortion. HEAL Seminar Series. University of Southampton 25 Nov 2015

TitleYou Can't Always Get What You Want: A Gewirthian Model of Rational Autonomy in Abortion
AuthorsClayton Thompson, J.
TypeConference keynote
Abstract

The law regulating the availability of abortion is problematic both legally and morally. It is dogmatic in its requirements of women and doctors and ignorant of would-be fathers. Practically, its usage is liberal - with s1(1)(a) Abortion Act 1967 treated as a ‘catch all’ ground - it allows abortion on demand. Yet this is not reflected in the ‘law’. Against this outdated legislation I propose a model of autonomy which seeks to tether our moral concerns with a new legal approach to abortion. I do so by maintaining that a legal conception of autonomy is derivable from the categorical imperative resulting from Gewirth’s argument to the Principle of Generic Consistency: Act in accordance with the generic rights of your recipients as well as of yourself. This model of Gewirthian Rational Autonomy, I suggest, provides a guide for both public and private notions of autonomy and how our autonomous interests can be balanced across social structures in order to legitimately empower choice. I claim, ultimately, that relevant rights in the context of abortion are derivable from this model.

KeywordsAbortion, Gewirth, Morality, Reason, Rationality, Kant, Feminism, Bioethics
Year2015
ConferenceHEAL Seminar Series

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