- Paperback: 314 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; unknown edition (August 13, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0521691354
- ISBN-13: 978-0521691352
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.7 x 9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 12 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #540,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case Against Abortion Choice unknown Edition
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"By a masterful marshalling of the pertinent arguments and a civil engagement with the counter-arguments, Beckwith makes a convincing case for law and social policy based on reason and natural rights rather than the will to power."
Reverend Richard John Neuhaus, Editor-in-Chief, First Things
"Like a superhero fighting on hostile turf with one arm tied behind his back, Francis J. Beckwith confronts every argument - popular, legal, and philosophical - that comes out against the pro-life position and fends them off one by one with steadfast rationality and exuberant invention. Between punches, drawing on the science of embryology and on philosophical anthropology, he develops a gracious and luminous case for the simple goodness of human life and the basic equality of all members of the human community from the moment of conception. Readers will judge for themselves whether or not he delivers a knock-out, but after working through Defending Life: A Moral and Legal Case against Abortion Choice, no one can honestly hide behind such conceits as that all educated people support abortion, that nothing but blind faith rejects abortion rights, or that we are faced with a tragic choice between intelligence and life."
James R. Stoner, Jr., Louisiana State University
"Using an argument rooted in nondiscrimination and equality of persons, Beckwith deftly combines the analytical tools of philosophy, jurisprudence, and science to construct a brilliant case for governmental protection of the unborn. Critics will have difficulty refuting the logical conclusion that emerges from his basic premises."
Carol Swain, Vanderbilt University
"Francis Beckwith's Defending Life directly confronts, with careful analysis of specific texts, a wide variety of arguments made by prominent scholars who favor abortion rights, including Judith Thomson, David Boonin, Dean Stretton, Eileen McDonagh, Paul Simmons, and Stuart Rosenbaum. Those who read the book may not agree with Beckwith, but they will have no ground to complain that he has not taken the arguments on the other side seriously, since the book is a sustained analysis and critique of the most important arguments in defense of abortion rights. It is often said that the anti-abortion position is fundamentally religious. Defending Life, however, provides a comprehensive and sophisticated philosophical defense of the position - too often given short shrift in academia - that abortion involves the deliberate, unjustifiable killing of a member of the human community. It is an invaluable contribution to debate on this central social and political issue."
Christopher Wolfe, Marquette University
"As the Supreme Court's recent decision upholding the ban on partial birth abortion and the controversy over stem cell research make clear, the issues surrounding respect for life will continue at the forefront of American politics in the twenty-first century. Professor Beckwith's new book makes an important contribution to these debates. Defending Life is, and is likely to remain for a long time, the most thorough and detailed statement of the pro-life position. It is well-written and learned; the author's command of the relevant literatures, both legal and philosophic, is impressive."
Jean M. Yarbrough, Bowdoin College
"...in his new book, Defending Life, leading pro-life scholar Francis J. Beckwith offers a precise statement of the philosophical and jurisprudential case the movement has developed....the Supreme Court has not settled the abortion issue; and when the abortion question eventually returns to the electorate, careful thinking will be crucial. That's when Beckwith's Defending Life will be helpful indeed."
Ryan T. Anderson, National Review
"This is important work... Beckwith performs a most effective demolition job on the pro-choice movement's more hackneyed arguments... [This book] is worthwhile reading for pro-life thinkers who wish to track Roe's deadly march through the American intelligentsia. It's more worthwhile still for pro-life thinkers who know that, while Roe may have won many battles since 1973, the war is far from over. Defending Life will equip pro-life activists to make a logically sound defense of human dignity."
Douglas LeBlanc, Christianity Today
"Defending Life is a profound and vigorous defense of the right to life, as well as a comprehensive rebuttal to every conceivable argument in favor of abortion."
Inside The Vatican
"...Beckwith has written a careful and meticulous treatise about why the fetus should have a personhood status equal to that of a born human being from the moment of conception. This is exactly where legislation is heading, and his book may bolster those efforts..."
--Eileen McDonagh, Northeastern University
Defending Life is the most comprehensive defense of the prolife position on abortion ever published. It is sophisticated, but still accessible to the ordinary citizen. Without high-pitched rhetoric or appeals to religion, the author offers a careful and respectful case for why the prolife view of human life is correct.
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The only drawback is his refusal to connect his pro-life position to some ultimate standard of morality. It is sad when committed Christians think they are being good apologists by trying to remain "neutral" and not take a "religious" position. It turns out there is no middle ground on moral or religious matters. Jesus said that we are either for him or against him, so Christians who choose to "leave the Bible out of it" are surrendering ground to the enemy.
Although Beckwith soundly refutes the pro-abortion arguments, his own case is not actually that convincing in its own right. His "substance" view of persons is rather vague and not easy to understand, even for the well-educated. He says that a human is valuable because of the "type of thing it is", and that because a human remains a human throughout his entire life despite experiencing changes both inside and outside the womb, it is always wrong to unjustly kill a human. His response to being accused of "speciesism" is extremely weak, claiming only that humans are different than animals because they possess a "personal nature." But what exactly does "personal nature" mean? Beckwith never attempts to explain this answer. I think my cat has a "personal nature", but that does not make it a human.
The ultimate answer for why abortion (and murder) is wrong is that human beings are made in the image of God. THAT is what makes humans different from animals. Overall, this book contains great information and is very helpful to Christians, but only so far. When reasoning with unbelievers, Christians must not be afraid to quote Scripture or affirm the reality of God. To abandon that position is to give up ground to the enemy.
First, Dr. Beckwith argues for a definition & moral value to humanity that provides a defense for innocent humans in a wide variety of circumstances, not just those who are tiny & preborn. The general philosophical arguments used here are helpful for evaluating human value among those in undeveloped, famine plagued regions of the world; among populations of hardened, committed career criminals; among those yet to be conceived several generations after our pollution-promoting public policies; & those who are physically and/or mentally disabled, etc.
Second, Dr. Beckwith treats abortion rights advocates with respect & honesty, not merely fairly representing their views & arguments, but even improving their arguments when he can & yet showing that even the best abortion rights arguments fatally undermine basic human rights based on the nature of humanity. A number of years ago, I role-played an abortion rights advocate in a public debate with Dr. Beckwith. He was concerned that his opponent be formidable & insightful, but he couldn't find an available true advocate he thought would do a credible enough job. I gave it my best shot (& Dr. Beckwith kindly said I was his toughest opponent to date), but Dr. Beckwith's arguments remained compelling & invincible. That generous respect & yet actual superiority is reflected in this book.
Third, Dr. Beckwith's sharp wit makes this book a serendipitous pleasure to read as well. Without demeaning his opponents or trivializing the issues, he is able to broach illustrations packed with humor & allude to cultural comedy to make telling points. As Dr. Beckwith's students will attest, he is nothing like the typical boring philosophy professor.
Fourth, this book provides such a wide spectrum of issues, arguments, & approaches that if you only have one book on the subject in your library, you should have this one -- even (or especially) if you are an abortion rights advocate.
Regardless of your familiarity with the subject or other volumes you might possess, you can't afford to miss getting & studying your own copy of Defending Life.