Public reason and abortion revisited

Libro: Persons, moral worth, and embryos: a critical analysis of pro-choice arguments
Autores: Thunder, David
Editorial: Springer
ISBN: 978-94-007-1601-8
Página inicial-final: 239 - 254
Fecha de publicación: 2011
Resumen: For better or for worse, abortion has become a touchstone for the so-called ¿culture wars¿ between liberals and secularists on one side, and conservatives and religious believers on the other. One need not embrace any particular view of abortion to recognize that this issue has the potential to divide society into conflicting factions and corrode citizens¿ capacity for mutual cooperation and trust, as accusations, resentment, and frustration accumulate in the face of what would appear to be insurmountable moral and philosophical differences. In this essay, I investigate whether an ideal of public reason might have have something constructive to say about the abortion controversy. I argue for two principal claims: first, that the highly influential Rawlsian ideal, with its focus on epistemic constraints and contractual virtues such as toleration and fairness, can neither settle the abortion dispute, nor significantly mitigate the social and political dangers associated with it. Second, I argue that the Rawlsian ideal should be supplanted by a virtue-ethical ideal, which relaxes Rawls¿s epistemic constraints and draws on a richer canon of virtue. The virtue-ethical ideal of public reason, though unable to decide policy outcomes directly, may have the potential to mitigate some of the political distrust and conflict that divides prochoice and prolife citizens, and to facilitate cooperation and trust in less contested political domains.