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Harming the Non-conscious

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Peter Singer has argued that nothing done to a fetus before it acquires consciousness can harm it. At the same time, he concedes that a child can be harmed by something done to it when it was a non-conscious fetus. But this implies that the non-conscious fetus can be harmed. The mistake lies in thinking that, since existence can be intrinsically bad for a being only if it is conscious, it can be harmed only if it is conscious. In fact, its being harmed only implies that it could have been conscious (and led a good life).

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: Department of Philosophy, Lund University

Publication date: 1999-07-01

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