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Tuesday, 21 April 2009

Published: Abortion and Capital Punishment UPDATED


I just discovered on Cambridge Journals that my publication for the Spring 2009 edition of Think: A Journal of the Royal Institute for Philosophy is online.

UPDATE: As some people are having trouble with the direct link to the pdf, try here for the html version of Abortion and Capital Punishment: A Response to Beverly Harrison.


  1. Think have now published this same article of Matt's twice now, they must like it.

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  2. Hmm. Maybe they should change their title to Think Twice ... !?

  3. Can one consistently oppose abortion on moral grounds, yet think the death penalty is morally acceptable? Very nice piece. I am not surprised that Think published it twice.

    I would like to see you either wade in or respond to Pro-Life, Pro-Zombie? published on Philosophy, Etc.

  4. That link doesn't work, do you mean this piece? here?

    I saw that a while back and meant to bring it to Matt's attention but didn't.

    Recent blog post: Published: Abortion and Capital Punishment

  5. I agree that opposition to abortion is (obviously!) consistent with supporting capital punishment. But your essay goes off the rails towards the end.

    You write: "Two propositions are contradictory only if one entails the negation (or rejection) of the other. It follows from this that they will have opposite truth-values; one will be true and the other false."

    That does not actually follow. All that follows is that they cannot both be true. They still could both be false. (You need the further assumption that the falsity of one entails the truth of the other, but this further assumption won't always hold.)

    For example, the propositions that 1=2 and that 1=3 are inconsistent (with themselves, and a fortiori with each other), but neither is true.

    So it's a mistake to argue that "If Harrison believes that capital punishment is unjust and believes that believing the contrary is inconsistent with opposition to feticide then it follows that feticide is wrong."

    She might consistently hold that opposition to F entails opposition to CP, without thereby being committed to the claim that opposition to CP entails opposition to F. (To see why, try replacing 'F' with 'eating meat' and 'CP' with 'eating pork'.)

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  6. Hi Richard, yes I agree the two premises are obviously consistent. The problem is a large number of people seem to think they are not. I hear this argument made quite frequently.

    As to your other comments, I was interpreting Harrison as holding the two were contradictories as opposed to merely being contraries. I suppose you could interpret her as simply claiming the latter, but, as you note that does not change my main point.

    Recent blog post: Published: Abortion and Capital Punishment

  7. What - they published the same article twice?

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  8. Yes but under different titles.

    The first one was:
    “Abortion and Capital Punishment: No Contradiction,” Think: A Periodical of the Royal Institute for Philosophy 17 (2007) 75-79.

    The second one was:
    “Abortion and Capital Punishment: A Response to Beverley Harrison,” Think: A Periodical of the Royal Institute for Philosophy 21 (2009) 99-103.

    The second one is not online, at least I cannot find it easily but we have a hard copy of it.

    They never really explained why they wanted to print it again or change the title, they just made contact a little while back and asked for Matt to sign all the documentation and check everything over.

    He hadn't submitted anything else and it was clearly the same article - though we should have updated the personal blurb at the end, Bible College of New Zealand is now called Laidlaw College and Matt no longer teaches the online Ethic paper there.

    I really enjoy Think, its aims are similar to our blog:"THINK is a journal created to forge a direct link between contemporary philosophy and the general public. The central aim of the journal is to provide easily accessible and engaging writing by philosophers pre-eminent in their fields to a wide audience, unimpeded by academic jargon and technicality. The journal is sponsored by the Royal Institute of Philosophy in London, which is committed to bringing philosophy of the highest caliber to the widest possible readership."Recent blog post: Published: Abortion and Capital Punishment

  9. Wow, it's awesome that you got published again. Madeleine told me that abortion was the subject of one of your theses, and given the quality of your writing on the Alexandrian argument I look forward to reading more of what you have to say on the issue.

    I'm having trouble with the link, though. It takes me to a page that tries to run something that causes my browser to lock up. Do you by any chance have a link directly to the PDF or somewhere else that I can read the article?

  10. Matt's PhD thesis was entitled "Is Traditional Christian Opposition to Feticide Defensible in the 21st Century?"

    Quite a bit of his material on feticide (abortion) on this site is drawn from his thesis research.

    That link is a direct link to the pdf of the article. My browser return an error, we have a known problem with our Adobe program, but if I click ok it still loads it fine.

    You can try the link to the Cambridge Journals above and scroll to the bottom of that page and you sill see their links to Matt's article or try this link, it should go to an html version.

    Or you can read the blog version of the same article - click on our death penalty label in the side bar (it is also under the feticide and abortion labels but there is less to scroll through via the death penalty label)

    Recent blog post: Published: Abortion and Capital Punishment

  11. Thank you! Going through the site, the link worked. I now have the PDF and will read it soon. I also see there's an article there called "Why Hobbits Cannot Exist." With a title like that, I have to read it!

  12. I made some errors in the citation of the earlier publication - I had taken the details from the draft the publishers sent through and just now I looked at the final copy that they sent us and realised the two were not the same.

    The correct citation is:
    “Abortion and Capital Punishment: No Contradiction,” Think: A Periodical of the Royal Institute for Philosophy, 16 (2008), 87-92.

    Recent blog post: Published: Abortion and Capital Punishment UPDATED


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