Responsibility, Complexity, and Abortion: Toward a New Image of Ethical Thought

Category: Book
By (author): Houle, Karen
Subject:  HEALTH & FITNESS / Pregnancy & Childbirth
  PHILOSOPHY / General
  SOCIAL SCIENCE / Feminism & Feminist Theory
Publisher: Lexington Books
Published: December 2013
Format: Book-hardcover
Pages: 261
Size: 9.10in x 6.10in x 1.00in
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$ 195.50
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Additional Notes

From The Publisher*Although the central test case of Responsibility, Complexity, and Abortion: Toward a New Image of Ethical Thought is the highly polarizing topic of abortion, the concepts and method developed could be applied to other intractable issues: euthanasia, safe injection sites, and capital punishment for instance. Learning a new way to think and talk about difficult ethical is certainly of value to moral and political philosophers but to anyone who strives for a more nuanced perspective on complex situations.
From The Publisher*Responsibility, Complexity, and Abortion: Toward a New Image of Ethical Thought draws from feminist theory, post-structuralist theory, and complexity theory to develop a new set of ethical concepts for broaching the thinking challenges that attend the experience of unwanted pregnancy. Author Karen Houle does not only argue for these concepts; she enacts a method for working with them, a method that brackets the tendency to take positions and to think that position-taking is what ethical analysis involves. This book thus provides concrete evidence of a theoretically-grounded, compassionate way that people in all walks of life, academic or otherwise, could come to a better understanding of, and more complex relationship to, difficult ethical issues. On the one hand, this is a meta-ethical book about how people can conceive and communicate moral ideas in ways that are more constructive than position-taking; on the other hand, it is also a book about abortion. It testifies from a first-person female perspective about the life-long complexity that attends fertility, sexuality and reproduction. But it does not do so in order to ratify abortion as a woman's issue or a private matter or as feminist work. Rather, its aim is to excavate the ethical richness of the situation of unwanted pregnancy showing that it connects to everyone, affects everyone, and thus gives everyone something unique and new to think.
Review Quote*This work of poststructuralist philosophy aims to undo some of the entrenched analytical methods used by traditional academics, political theorists, and philosophers in evaluating the divisive issue of abortion. Houle takes no specific position on whether abortion is right or wrong, good or bad, appropriate for our society or not. Instead, she aims to open the issue of abortion to more perspectives, sources of evidence, and personal experiences than the current framework of the abortion debate typically allows. The act of judgment–taking a position–only encourages a limited view of the intrinsic complexity of abortion. The alternative that Houle suggests is to display and analyze as many aspects of abortion as possible, including the social context in which it occurs, the language used to describe it, the history of its implementation, and the feelings of its participants. One goal of this method is to help people understand abortion in a way that promotes continued discussion and reflection rather than an attempt to 'solve' the problem. Houle's critical technique, drawn substantially from Foucault and Deleuze, could be extended to other traditional moral issues like physician-assisted suicide and recreational drug policy. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students and researchers/faculty.
Biographical NoteKaren Houle is associate professor of philosophy at the University of Guelph. She co-edited, with Jim Vernon, Hegel and Deleuze: Together Again for the First Time. She is also the author of two books of poetry: Ballast and During.