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Module Reading List

Ethical Issues at the Beginning of Life (Online), 2021/22, Semester D03
Dr Sarah Carter-Walshaw
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue


Unit 2.1- Is Life Sacred?

Required Reading

Dworkin, R. (1993) What is Sacred? In his Life's Dominion. London: Harper Collins.
Available as an Online Course Reading 

Singer, P. (2011). Practical Ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 71-76 ONLY.  

Further Reading

Arneson, R.J. (1999). What, If Anything, Renders All Humans Morally Equal? In Jamieson, D. (ed.) Singer and his critics. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 103–127.

Glover, J. (2006). The Sanctity of Life. In: Singer, P. and Kuhse, H. (eds.), Bioethics, 2nd Edition, Oxford: Blackwell (available online in the Online Course Readings folder)

Warren, M.A. (1997). Moral status: obligations to persons and other living things. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

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Unit 2.2 - Personhood Accounts

Required Reading

Tooley, M. (1972). Abortion and Infanticide. Philosophy & Public Affairs 2(1): 37-65.
NOTE: for this unit please skip Section V ‘Refutation of the Conservative Position’ (pp. 55-62). In that section Tooley presents his response to potentiality arguments, which we will consider in the next unit. 

Hursthouse, R. (1992). Trying to prove the foetus does not matter. In: Beginning lives. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 89-130.
Available as an Online Course Reading 

Further Reading

Anscombe, E. (1985). Were you a Zygote? In Griffiths, A.P. (ed.) Philosophy and practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (SRJ 09/10/2017) 

Bassen, P. (1982). Present Sakes and Future Prospects: the Status of Early Abortion. Philosophy & public affairs 11(4): 314-337.

Boonin, D. (2003). A defense of abortion. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Available Online.

Coope, C. (2006). Worth and welfare in the controversy over abortion. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Available Online.

Dworkin, R. (1993). Life's Dominion. London: Harper Collins.

Foot, P. (1978). The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect. In Virtues and vices. Oxford: Blackwell. Available Online.

Ford, N. (1988). When did I begin? : conception of the human individual in history, philosophy and science, Chapter 2. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Available as Online Course Reading

Galvao, P. (2007). Boonin on the future-like-ours argument against abortion. Bioethics 21(6): 324-28.

Harman, E. (1999). Creation Ethics: The Moral Status of Early Fetuses and the Ethics of Abortion. Philosophy & public affairs. 28: 310–324.

Hursthouse, R. (1987). Beginning lives, Chapters 5 and 6. Oxford: Blackwell.

Hursthouse, R. (1991). Virtue, Theory and Abortion Philosophy & public affairs 20(3): 223-246.

Jackson, J. (1992). Toleration in the Abortion Debate. In Bromham, D. et al. (eds.) Ethics in reproductive medicine. London: Springer.

Jackson, J. (2006). Ethics in medicine, Chapter 10. Cambridge: Polity.
Available as Online Course Reading

Kenny, A. (1987). Abortion and the Taking of Human Life. In Reason and religion: essays in philosophical theology. Oxford: Blackwell.
Available as Online Course Reading

Kittay, E. F. (2005). At the Margins of Personhood. Ethics 116: 100–31.

Lang, G. (2008). 'Nudging the Responsibility Objection. Journal of applied philosophy 25(1): 56-70.

Little, M. (2008). Abortion and the Margins of Personhood. Rutgers Law Journal 39: 331–348.

McMahan, J. (2002). The ethics of killing: killing at the margins of life, Chapter 4. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Available as Online Course Reading

McMahan, J. (2006). Paradoxes of Abortion and Prenatal Injury. Ethics 116: 625-655.

Murray, T.H. and Caplan, A. (eds.) (1985). Which babies shall live? : humanistic dimensions of the care of imperiled newborns Clifton NJ: Humana.

Oderberg, D. (2000). Applied ethics : a non-consequentialist approach, Chapter 1. Oxford: Blackwell.
Available as an Online Course Reading

Quinn, W. (1984). Abortion, Identity and Loss. Philosophy & public affairs 13(1): 24-54.

Sher, G. (1977). Hare, Abortion and the Golden Rule. Philosophy & public affairs 6(2) 185-90.

Singer, P. (2011) Practical ethics, Chapters 4 and 6. New York: Cambridge University Press.
See pp. 151-154 for Singer's response to the infanticide objection. Available as an eBook from the University library.

Steinbock, B. (2011). Life Before Birth: the moral and legal status of embryos and fetuses. New York: Oxford University Press.

Tooley, M. (1983). Abortion and Infanticide. In: Applied ethics ISBN: 0198750676 (pbk.); 0198750854 by Peter Singer (1986) Oxford: Clarendon Press. - Available online:,%20Abortion%20and%20infanticide.pdf

Tupa, A. (2009). Killing, Letting Die, and the Morality of Abortion. Journal of applied philosophy 26(1): 1-26.

Warren, M.A. (1994). On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion. In White, J.E. (ed.) Contemporary moral problems, Fourth Edition. St Paul, Minn: West Publishing Co.

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Unit 2.3 - Potentiality Arguments

Required Reading

Tooley, M. (1972). Abortion and Infanticide. Philosophy & Public Affairs 2(1): pp. 37-65. Section V ‘Refutation of the Conservative Position’ (pp. 55-62) ONLY.  

Singer, P. (2011). Practical Ethics, New York: Cambridge University Press: 138-141 ONLY. Available as an eBook from the University library 

Oderberg, D. (2000).  Moral theory: a non-consequentialist approach, Chapter 4 (especially section 4.4) . Oxford:  Wiley-Blackwell. Available as Online Course Reading  

Further Reading

Megone, C. (2000). Potentiality and Persons: An Aristotelian Perspective. In Kuczewski, M. and Polansky, R. (eds.), Bioethics: ancient themes in contemporary issues Boston: MIT Press. Available as Online Course Reading.

Singer, P. (2011). Practical Ethics. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 138-151.

Harman, E. (2003). The Potentiality Problem.  Philosophical studies 114(1-2): 173-198. 

Stone, J. (1987). Why Potentiality Matters. Canadian journal of philosophy. ISSN: 0045-5091; 1911-0820 17(4): 815-830. OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (SRJ 09/10/2017) 

Stone, J. (1994). Why Potentiality Still Matters. Canadian journal of philosophy  24(2): 281-294 OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (SRJ 09/10/2017) 

Fisher, J.A. (1994). Why Potentiality Does Not Matter – A Reply to Stone.  Canadian journal of philosophy 24(2): 261-180. OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (SRJ 09/10/2017) 

Jacquette, D. (2001). Two kinds of potentiality: a Crtique of McGinn on the Ethics of Abortion.  Journal of applied philosophy  18(1): 79-86.

Burgess, J. A. (2010). Potential and Foetal Value. Journal of applied philosophy  27(2): 140-153. 

Camosy, C. (2008). Common Ground on Surgical Abortion? - Engaging Peter Singer on the Moral Status of Potential Persons.  Journal of medicine and philosophy  33: 577-593.

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Unit 2.4 - Conflicts of Rights

Required Reading

Thomson, J.J. (1971). A Defense of Abortion Philosophy and Public Affairs 1(1): 47-66.  

Further Reading

Brody, B. (1972). Thomson on Abortion Philosophy & Public Affairs 1(3): 335-340.

Finnis, J. (1973). The Rights and Wrongs of Abortion: A Reply to Judith Thomson Philosophy & Public Affairs 2(2): 117-145.

Purdy, L.M. (1990). Are Pregnant Women Fetal Containers? Bioethics 4(4): 273–291.

Silverstein, H. (1987). A Woman's ‘Responsibility’ for the Fetus. Social Theory and Practice 13: 103-119. Available as an Online Course Reading.

Stone, J. (1983). Abortion and the Control of Human Bodies. Journal of Value Inquiry 17(1): 77-85.

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Unit 2.5 - The Non-Identity Problem

Required Reading

Parfit, D. (1984). The Non-Identity Problem. In: Reasons and persons. Oxford University Press: 351-379.

Further Reading

Hope, Tony. Medical ethics : a very short introduction ISBN: 0192802828 (pbk). Chapter 4. Oxford University Press, 2004.

Lawlor, Rob. "Questioning the significance of the non-identity problem in applied ethics" Journal of Medical Ethics, 2015, 893-896.

Arrhenius, G. et al. (2014). The Repugnant Conclusion. In: Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy [electronic resource]. (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.). Available online.

Adams, R. M. (1972). Must God Create the Best? The Philosophical Review 81: 317-32.

Boonin, D. (2008). How to Solve the Non-Identity Problem. Public Affairs Quarterly 22: 127-57. OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (SRJ 28/11/2017) Available as an Online Course Reading

Hanser, M. (1990). Harming Future People. Philosophy & Public Affairs 19: 47-70.

Hare, C. (2007). Voices From Another World: Must We Respect the Interests of People Who Do Not, and Will Never, Exist? Ethics 117: 498-523.

Harman, E. (2004). Can We Harm and Benefit in Creating? Philosophical Perspectives 18: 89-113.

Kavka, G. (1982). The Paradox of Future Individuals. Philosophy & Public Affairs 11: 93-112.

Parfit, D. (1984). The Repugnant Conclusion. In Reasons and persons. Oxford University Press: 381-390.

Parfit, D. (1986). Comments. Ethics 96: 854-62.

Parsons, J. (2003). Why the Handicapped Child Case is Hard. Philosophical Studies 112: 147-62.

Roberts, M. A. (2013). The Nonidentity Problem. Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy [electronic resource]. (Fall 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.). Available online.

Woodward, J. (1986) The Non-Identity Problem. Ethics 96: 804-31.

Parfit, D. (2006), Rights, Interests, and Possible People. In Singer, P. and Kuhse, H. (eds.), Bioethics, 2nd Edition, Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 108-112.

Brock, D. (1995). The non-identity problem and genetic harms - the case of wrongful handicaps. Bioethics 9(3): 269-275.

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Unit 2.6 - Fertility Treatment and Reproductive Autonomy

Required Reading

Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy, Parenthood and Procreation, sections 2, 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3. Available Online.  

Archard, A. (2004). Wrongful Life. Philosophy 79: 414-420. Sections III and IV only.    

Further Reading

Brock, D. (2005). Shaping Future Children. The journal of political philosophy 13: 379-384. Sections I and II. 

Larcher, V. (2007). Ethical Issues in Respect of Children Born After Assisted Reproductive Technologies. Archives of disease in childhood 92: 670-71.

Lotz, M. (2009). Procreative reasons relevance: on the moral significance of why we have children. Bioethics 23(5): 291-299.

Robertson, J. (2005). Gay and Lesbian Access to Assisted Reproductive Technology. Case Western Reserve Law Review 55(2): 323–372. Online at  

Waxman, S (2017) ‘Applying the preconception welfare principle and the harm threshold: doing more harm than good?’ Medical Law International ISSN: 0968-5332 17(3):134-157.

Waxman, S (2018) ‘The pre-conception welfare principle: a critical analysis’ Law, Innovation and Technology ISSN: 1757-9961 10(1):122-152.

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Unit 2.7 - Feminist Perspectives and Pre-Natal Screening

Required Reading

Brake, E. and Millum, J. (2013). ‘Parenthood and Procreation’. Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy [electronic resource]. (Winter 2013 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.) Available online. Section 2.4 ONLY  

Lyerly A, D et al. (2009), Risk and the Pregnant Body. Hastings Center report., 39: 34–42.

Seavilleklein, V. (2009). Challenging the Rhetoric of Choice in Prenatal Screening. Bioethics 23(1): 68-77.  

Further Reading

Asch, Adrienne, 'Prenatal Diagnosis and Selective Abortion: A Challenge to Practice and Policy' in Bioethics, pp. 122-136. 

Bowden, C. (2019). Are We Justified in Introducing Carbon Monoxide Testing to Encourage Smoking Cessation in Pregnant Women? Health Care Analysis27(2), 128–145.

Debruin, D. (2016). Fetal Risk, Fetal Purity, and the Perils Posed by Pregnant Women. The American Journal of Bioethics16(2), 12–14.

Kukla, Rebecca, 2005a, “The limits of lines: negotiating hard medical choices”, APA Newsletter on Philosophy of Medicine 5(1), 13–19. medicine_newsletter

Kukla, Rebecca, 2008, “Measuring Mothering”, International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 1(1): 67–90.

Kukla, Rebecca (2010) 'The ethics and cultural politics of reproductive risk warnings: A case study of California's Proposition 65', Health, Risk & Society, 12: 4, 323 — 334

Kukla, R. (2006). Ethics and Ideology in Breastfeeding Advocacy Campaigns. Hypatia21(1), 157–180.


Martucci, J., & Barnhill, A. (2018). Examining the use of “natural” in breastfeeding promotion: ethical and practical concerns. Journal of Medical Ethics44(9), 615–620.

Minkoff, H., & Marshall, M. (2016). Fetal Risks, Relative Risks, and Relatives’ Risks. The American Journal of Bioethics16(2), 3–11. 

Purdy, Laura M., 'Genetics and Reproductive Risk: Can Having Children be Immoral? ' in Bioethics, pp. 115-121.

Purdy, Laura M. 'Are Pregnant Women Fetal Containers? ', Bioethics, 4/4 (1990): 273-291.

Purdy, Laura M. . Reproducing persons : issues in feminist bioethics, (Cornell University Press, 1996).  

Richardson, S., Daniels, C., Gillman, M., Golden, J., Kukla, R., Kuzawa, C., & Rich-Edwards, J. (2014). Society: Don’t blame the mothers. Nature (London)512(7513), 131–132.

Robertson, John, ‘The Right to Procreate and in Utero Fetal Therapy’, Zeitschrift für Rechtsmedizin = Journal of legal medicine. 3(3), 1982, 355.

Robertson, John, 1996, “Genetic selection of offspring characteristics”, Boston University Law Review 76: 301–61.

Sherwin, Susan, 1992, No longer patient : feminist ethics and health care, Philadelphia: Temple University Press, chapters 5 and 6.

Tremain, Shelley, 2006, “Reproductive freedom, self-regulation, and the government of impairment in utero”, Hypatia. A Journal of Feminist Philosophy 21(1): 35–53.

Woollard, Fiona, 2018, "Motherhood and Mistakes about Defeasible Duties to Benefit." Philosophy and phenomenological research. , 97: 126-149. doi:10.1111/phpr.12355

Unit 2.8 - Module Review

This list was last updated on 02/09/2021