THE ABORTION DEBATE AS A CONTEST OF INCOMMENSURABLE MORALITIES
The paper is concerned with framing the abortion debate as a contest of “incommensurable moralities” (Zarefsky, 1991). I start from the empirical observation that both pro-life and pro-choice argumentative discourses do not meet the “higher-order” conditions stipulated in the ideal model of a critical discussion (van Eemeren, Grootendorst, Jackson and Jacobs, 1993) in the sense that disputants do not have the required attitude to resolve the disagreement at stake. The pro-life standpoint that Abortion is impermissible no matter the circumstances since the one eliminated is a human being is set against the pro-choice position that Abortion is permissible as the fetus is not a human being at least up to a certain moment. It appears that the abortion debate rests on incompatible positions and consequently the resolution of the difference of opinion proves impossible. In line with Fogelin (2005) I claim that the abortion debate should be treated as a case of deep disagreement in which rational argumentation is replaced by persuasion.