UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Abortion, potentiality, and the right to life Thiessen, Eric Paul


This thesis is about potentiality theory and the right to life. It is an attempt to distil the potentiality position into its strongest incarnation in order to see what it has to offer. In Chapter I various attempts to discredit potentiality theory are examined. Particular emphasis is placed on Michael Tooley's defense of abortion and infanticide and his critique of potentiality theory. It is concluded that a well articulated potentiality position need not lead to any obvious absurdity, and can resist the charge of philosophical arbitrariness. Thus, the potentiality position is a legitimate contender in the right to life dispute. In Chapter II, we ask the question whether the potential to become a person is sufficient for the right to life, or is actual personhood necessary? Various attempted resolutions are considered and rejected. It is concluded that the issue is still quite debateable but that some support for the potentiality position can be found in a Rawls-type validation procedure.

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