The Border of Life
This thesis discusses the difficult problem of abortion. In trying to solve the philosophical difficulties with abortion this thesis aims to answer the research question: To what extent and on what normative basis is the ending of (pre-natal) life morally permissible? In order to formulate this answer, first an extensive overview of the most influential philosophical positions on abortion is presented and discussed. These positions are analyzed for their strengths and limitations. After the philosophical basis for the abortion debate is outlined, the normative basis for the moral permissibility of abortion is analyzed in terms of personhood and interests. The main claims of this thesis are that fetal sentience is the minimal basis for a right to life, and self-awareness is the basis for a strong right to life. The link between sentience, consciousness and interests is discussed not only on a normative, but also on a descriptive basis. In placing this central claim in the context of the broader abortion debate, and descriptive scientific research, this thesis aims to provide a broad, holistic answer to the research question.
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