Responsibility, Complexity, and Abortion

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

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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.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 272 pages
  • 162.56 x 228.6 x 25.4mm | 544.31g
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • 0739136712
  • 9780739136713

Table of contents

Acknowledgments Introduction Chapter One: Approaching Phenomena via Descriptive Methods Chapter Two: Abortion as Dossier: A Mapping Exercise Chapter Three: Ethics, Accountability, Critique Chapter Four: Ethical Images of Thought Chapter Five: Abortion and the Ethical Labors of Mourning and Listening Conclusion Medical Appendices About the Author
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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. CHOICE [Houle's] use of discourse method is ... successful, and makes a considerable contribution to feminist ethics. Hypatia: A Journal of Feminist Philosophy
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About Karen L. F. Houle

Karen 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.
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