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Module Reading List

Ethical Issues at the Beginning of Life, 2021/22, Semester 1
Dr Sarah Carter-Walshaw
Tutor information is taken from the Module Catalogue
On this page:


The Sanctity of Life

Required Reading

Dworkin, Ronald. 'What is Sacred? ', in his Life's Dominion (London: Harper Collins, 1993). OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (GW 09/10/2017) 

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

Glover, Jonathan. 'The Sanctity of Life' in Kuhse and Singer (eds.), Bioethics, Oxford: Blackwell, 2006). (Available online)    

Further Reading

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

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

The Right to Life and Moral Personhood

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, Rosalind. ‘Trying to prove the foetus does not matter’, in her Beginning Lives, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992) OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (GW 09/10/2017) .    OCR REQUESTED BY LIBRARY (AJ 07/12/2021) 

Further Reading

Anscombe, Elizabeth. 'Were you a Zygote? ', A. Phillips Griffiths (ed.) Philosophy and practice, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1985).

Bassen, Paul ‘Present Sakes and Future Prospects: the Status of Early Abortion’, Philosophy & public affairs, 1982.

Boonin, David. A defense of abortion, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).

Coope, Christopher, Worth and welfare in the controversy over abortion (Palgrave Macmillan, 2006).

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

Foot, Philippa ‘The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of the Double Effect’, in her Virtues and vices, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1978).

Ford, Norman. When did I begin? : conception of the human individual in history, philosophy and science, (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), Ch.2.

Galvao, Pedro. 'Boonin on the future-like-ours argument against abortion', Bioethics, 2007, 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, Rosalind. Beginning lives, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987), Chapters 5 and 6.

Hursthouse, Rosalind. 'Virtue, Theory and Abortion', Philosophy & public affairs, 20/3 (1991) 223-246.

Jackson, Jennifer. 'Toleration in the Abortion Debate', Ethics in reproductive medicine.

Jackson, Jennifer. Ethics in medicine (Cambridge: Polity, 2006), ch. 10

Kenny, Anthony. 'Abortion and the Taking of Human Life', in his Reason and religion : essays in philosophical theology, (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987).

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

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

Little, M., 2008, 'Abortion and the Margins of Personhood,' Rutgers Law Journal ISSN: 0277-318X, 39: 331–348.    

McMahan, Jeff. The ethics of killing : killing at the margins of life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), Chapter. 4

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

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

Quinn, Warren. 'Abortion, Identity and Loss', Philosophy & public affairs, 13/1 (1984), 24-54.

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

Steinbock, Bonnie. Life Before Birth : the moral and legal status of embryos and fetuses, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992).

Tooley, Michael. Abortion and Infanticide, (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1983).

Tupa, Antony. 'Killing, Letting Die, and the Morality of Abortion', Journal of applied philosophy, 26.1 (2009), 1-26.

Warren, Mary Ann. 'On the Moral and Legal Status of Abortion', in James E. White (ed.) Contemporary moral problems, Fourth Edition (St Paul, Minn: West Publishing Co., 1994).

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Abortion and Potentiality Arguments

Required Reading

Marquis, Don. 'Why Abortion is Immoral', in Kuhse and Singer (eds.), Bioethics,, (Oxford: Blackwell, 2006), pp. 51-62.      

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.  

Further Reading

Oderberg, David. Moral theory: a non-consequentialist approach (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000). Chapter 4, esp. 4.4.

Singer, Peter. 'Taking Life: the Embryo and the Fetus', in Practical ethics (3rd Edition) , (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011), Chapter 6. Available as an eBook from the University library.

Fisher, John Andrew. 'Why Potentiality Does Not Matter – A Reply to Stone', Canadian journal of philosophy. 24/2 (1994), 261-180.

Harman, Elizabeth. 'The Potentiality Problem', Philosophical studies. 114/1-2 (2003), 173-198.

Megone, Chris. 'Potentiality and Persons: An Aristotelian Perspective', in Mark Kuczewski and Ronald Polansky (eds.), Bioethics : ancient themes in contemporary issues, (Boston: MIT Press, 2000).

Stone, Jim. 'Why Potentiality Matters', Canadian journal of philosophy., 17/4 (1987), 815-830.

Stone, Jim. “Why Potentiality Still Matters”, Canadian journal of philosophy., 24/2 (1994), 281-294

Jacquette, Dale. 'Two kinds of potentiality: a Crtique of McGinn on the Ethics of Abortion', Journal of applied philosophy., 18.1 (2001), 79-86.

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

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

Abortion and Rights Arguments

Required Reading

Thomson, Judith Jarvis. 'A Defense of Abortion' , Philosophy and Public Affairs, 1/1 (1972): 47-66.

Further Reading

Brake, Elizabeth (2005), “Fatherhood and Child Support:  Do Men Have a Right to Choose?” Journal of Applied Philosophy 22:1: 55-73.

Stone, Jim (1983), ‘Abortion and the Control of Human Bodies’, The journal of value inquiry. 17 (1983).

Finnis, John (1973), ‘The Rights and Wrongs of Abortion: A Reply to Judith Thomson’, Philosophy & public affairs. vol, 2

Brody, Baruch. (1972) 'Thomson on Abortion', Philosophy & public affairs., 1/3, 335-34.

Purdy, Laura, M. (1990) 'Are Pregnant Women Fetal Containers? ' in Bioethics, pp. 65-76.

Silverstein, Harry. (1987) ‘A Woman’s ‘Responsibility’ for the Fetus’, Social theory and practice., 13, 103-19.

Wiland Eric (2000) 'Unconscious violinists and the use of analogies in moral argument' Journal of Medical Ethics;26:466-468.

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Non-Identity Problem and Wrongful Birth

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.

Woodward, James. "The non-identity problem." Ethics. 96, no. 4 (1986): 804-831.

Parfit, Derek, 'Rights, Interests, and Possible People', in Bioethics,, pp. 108-112.

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


Fertility Treatment and Reproductive Rights

Required Reading

Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy [electronic resource]., ‘Parenthood and Procreation’, sections 2, 3.1, 3.2 and 3.3.  

David Archard (2004) ‘Wrongful Life’ Philosophy. 79, sections III and IV only (414-420).  

Dan Brock (2005), ‘Shaping Future Children’ The journal of political philosophy. 13, sections I and II (379-384).  

Further Reading

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

Mianna Lotz (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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Feminist Perspectives on Reproductive Autonomy

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  

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

Lyerly, Anne Drapkin,  Mitchell, Lisa M.,Mitchell Armstrong, Elizabeth, Harris, Lisa H., Kukla, Rebecca, Kuppermann, Miriam & Little, Margaret Olivia . (2009). Risk and the Pregnant Body. The Hastings Center Report39(6), 34–42.  

Further Reading

Lewis, Sophie (2019) Full Surrogacy Now New York: Verso.

Raymond, Janice (1988) "IN THE MATTER OF BABY M: REJUDGED" Reproductive and Genetic Engineering, Vol. 1, No. 2, pp. 175-181. Available as an Online Course Reading in Minerva 

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

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

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, "Should we talk about the ‘benefits’ of breastfeeding? The significance of the default in representations of infant feeding" Journal of medical ethics. ISSN: 0306-6800; 1473-4257; 44:756-760.  

Woollard, Fiona, 2018, "Motherhood and Mistakes about Defeasible Duties to Benefit." Philosophy and phenomenological research. ISSN: 0031-8205, 97: 126-149. doi:10.1111/phpr.12355

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Parts IV-VI of A companion to bioethics, H. Kuhse and P. Singer (eds.) (Malden: Blackwell, 2009).

This list was last updated on 30/11/2021