Dave Sterrett has written a highly engaging book examining many of the philosophical fallacies in the abortion debate. The book challenges many of the lies on which abortion is founded and the philosophical assumptions that help to support the destruction of human life. No rock is left uncovered as Sterrett argues against materialism, scientism, relativism and secularism while metaphysics, personhood and natural theology are defended. A restoration of Aristotle’s philosophy would help to form hearts and minds towards protecting the unborn.
He describes how metaphysics is essential to the ethical debate about abortion. Sterrett attacks scientism as a promotion of science for its own sake that leaves no room for any immaterial reality or type of transcendence. He also examines the views of many famous philosophers and celebrities, examining the errors in their thinking. David Boonin comes under particular attack for his lack of professionalism, and Judith Jarvis Thomson, Peter Singer and Richard Dawkins are also critiqued. Boonin still has a picture of his son as an unborn child, yet still is intellectually dubious in his arguments in defence of abortion. The argument defending abortion because we cannot know when life begins is still around today and has led to the death of over 55 million children in the USA alone.
Sterrett is clear that sanctity and natural theology should not be dismissed in the abortion debate just because they are religious terms. Arguments for God along with being and essence are visited. The author highlights that if God does not exist there are no adequate ontological reasons to affirm the existence of objective moral truths.
Sterrett defends the ideas of both Aristotle (whom we have largely forgotten about in the Western world, but had erroneous views on abortion) and Jefferson (whom he defends from the hypocrisy of owning slaves). Aristotle was brilliant in defending natural rights, virtue ethics, substance and human dignity. Aristotle’s idea of substance is still relevant for science today, and all humans should be considered persons. Today the majority of abortion supporters believe strongly in a separation between human beings and personhood. All persons are someone for who they are, and not solely for any functional purpose. Human beings deserve respect for who they are. Human babies are innocent, persons and human and therefore they should be protected and not be intentionally killed.
One of the closing chapters looks at similarities and differences on both sides of the abortion debate. Abortion advocates often use theories, while defenders of life use Aristotelean logic with premises about real life. Despite this, some abortion advocates such as Singer can see that there can be a greater purpose in some suffering, humans are responsible for what they could have prevented, that racism is wrong and that animals should be treated with respect.
A philosopher’s stance on abortion is frequently rooted in their metaphysical beliefs. Defenders of abortion prefer a functional view of what it means to be human, rejecting metaphysics and essence and existence. In this worldview, children are often viewed as inhumane parasites and pregnancy can be viewed negatively. Contemporary abortion advocates have rejected Aristotle’s metaphysics and the scholasticism of the middle ages. Aristotle and Aquinas affirmed epistemological realism and metaphysical realism. These classical truths could help progressive ethicists who are blinded in their own philosophy to be more open minded about the dignity and personhood of unborn human beings.
The book provides a whistle stop tour for many of the most important philosophical arguments surrounding ethical issues, and an engagement where comprehensive philosophical thought can be a foundation stone for the abortion debate.