Although philosophers have explored issues related to pregnancy – most obviously abortion and the value and metaphysics of coming into existence – little philosophical attention has been paid to pregnancy itself. That is a remarkable omission because pregnancy raises important philosophical problems. Between June 2014 and September 2015, Elselijn Kingma and Fiona Woollard were running a research project ‘Taking Pregnancy Seriously in Metaphysics, Ethics and Epistemology” that investigated some of these questions in a series of events.
Although philosophers have explored issues related to pregnancy – most obviously abortion and the value and metaphysics of coming into existence – little philosophical attention has been paid to pregnancy itself. That is a remarkable omission because pregnancy raises important philosophical problems in metaphysics, ethics and epistemology: should the foetus be regarded as part of or ‘merely surrounded by’ the mother? If persons can be parts of other persons, what does this imply for bodily ownership and personal and numerical identity? What special rights and duties does the unique status of pregnancy bestow? Does the radically transformative character of pregnancy mean that those who have never been pregnant are excluded from certain kinds of knowledge about pregnancy and its consequences?
This Research Project, funded by a University of Southampton “Adventures in Research” Grant, and with additional support from the Southampton Ethics Centre, the British Society for Philosophy of Science and the Aristotelian Society, organised four workshops that explored some of these questions.
'Taking pregnancy seriously' is part of a series of projects on Philosophy of Pregnancy and Early Motherhood, run by Elselijn Kingma and Fiona Woollard.
Conferences and events associated with this project:
Lynne Baker (Amherst) - A puzzle about pregnancy: first there is one person, then there are two
Ellen Clarke (Oxford) - Reproduction and Evolution
Elselijn Kingma (Southampton) - Budding Humans? Pregnancy and Identity
Steinvör Árnadóttir (Stirling) - On the metaphysical implications of the part-whole view
For more information on this workshop please click here.
Eric Olson (Sheffield) - Is the Foetus a part of the Mother's Body?
John Dupré (Exeter) - Pregnancy as a Bifurcating process
Rohan Lewis (Southampton) - No going back: biological perspectives on the emergence of biological identity in reproduction
Barry Smith (Buffalo)- Embryontology
Slideshows from this workshop are available here.
Rebecca Kukla (Georgetown) - Equipoise, Uncertainty, and Indctive Risk in Research Involving Pregnant Women
Lindsey Porter (Sheffield) - Gestation and Parental Rights: Why is Good Enough Good Enough
Sally Fischer (Warren-Wilson) - The Phenomenology of Pregnant Embodiment
Fiona Woollard (Southampton) - Motherhood and the Reason/Duty Distinction
Angela Fenwick and Rose Wiles (Southampton) - Ventouse or forceps: whose delivery, whose decision?
Rosamund Scott (KCL) - 'Maternal-fetal conflict' during Pregnancy and at Birth
Rebecca Roache (Oxford) - Is unwanted pregnancy a medical disorder?
Hazel Biggs (Southampton) - Autonomy and enforced Caesarean sections