When, if ever, is it morally permissible for a woman to have an abortion? When, if ever, are agents morally obligated to bring new persons into existencewhether by refraining from having an abortion or by conceiving a child? Questions of abortion and procreation provoke debates at the practical level that can seem endless and emotionally fraught. The same questions also raise surprisingly deep issues regarding the very nature and structure of moral law. The goal of Abortion and the Moral Significance of Merely Possible Persons is to lay the groundwork for a more productive discussion by first identifying the common ground shared by the relevant parties to the debatesincluding the common ground we can agree exists between the great normative traditions of consequentialism and deontology. The author then will determine just how far, starting from that practical and theoretical common ground, we may go in resolving hard cases. The strategy here is to work from neutral ground to generate the concrete results and also to ask parties on both sides of the relevant debates to amend their positions in some ways. The results then achieved, though limited, should be of considerable interest to a wide audience.

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