Abortion and the criterion of maxmin


Hello everyone. I have a very interesting proposal for you. Throughout this forum, I read that it has been commented on the issue of abortion in other chapters, such as morality, this time I bring it back but to ask you a question.

Would abortion be considered correct in this chapter according to the criteria of the maxmin and the three theories of justices?

I think it does apply to this issue, because for some people, they do not agree with abortion and that diminishes their utility in society, but other people do support it. So here the concept of maxmin should be applied, maximizing social utility but with the minimum of distortion and disagreement that people who do not support abortion have.

I hope you can help me with this question!


Hi @RafaGc.

Yes, I think we could use the maxmin criteria of Rawls to say something about the morality of abortion.
However there is a “definition” problem which is central.

If we believe that the fetus is not a human being, then we could argue that only the utility of the woman matters. Therefore, the maxmin criteria will imply that we should consider abortion as a moral action.

On the other hand, if we belive that the fetus is a human being although it has not been born, then we should take in consideration the utility of the woman and her unborn child. Therefore, the maxmin criteria will imply that abortion is inmmoral.

I think something similar will happen with the utilitarian criteria and the Nozick/Just Dessert criteria.
The discussion is if the unborn is a child or a non-human being.


I fully agree with Cutberto’s comment. I also find it plausible that, were the problem of “definition” to point that a fetus is, in fact, a human being, society’s appraisal of the problem would likely be altered. That is, if science were to prove that abortion is in fact commensurable to murder, arguably a large majority of society would oppose the procedure (which would negatively affect their own utilities). In this sense, and building on @Cutberto’s comment, the maxmin criteria should encompass both the mother and the unborn child’s utility functions, as well as the utility function of unrelated individuals with a “firmer” view against abortion.


Hi everyone, I totally agree with your points but I think the main discussion is if the unborn is considered a human being


Taking @Cutberto 's aproach, I would like to add other problem to the matter besides the disscusion around the unborn’s nature, and that is the uncertanity of the unborn’s utility. Although I (and presumibly eveyone in this forum) believe that any life matters, someone could find that a life where in principle your mother was disposed to get rid of you, isn’t that atractive, or that a life with several diabilities isn’t either.

Once again, even if we believe that any life matters, it might not be the reality for the general case, making it difficult for maxmin criteria to deliever a unique moral criteria.


Hello everybody,
I agree that it is very important the definition problem that we have but but I also agree that we can’t know the utility of the unborn child even if we take in account it utility. I belive it is very difficult to calculate the utility of this problem because we can also have the problem of utilities crossing between mother and unborn child.


I’m in line with the general opinion, it is a matter of science rather than ethics. How does biology defines life? One single cell is already “alive”. Arguing that “killing” this bunch of cells is equivalent to a murder is a bit naive because if we scrap our scalp we are also killing a bunch of cells. So, when does the life of a human begins? Some say that it is when the nervous system is formed and others that way before… Who knows.

What I would like to introduce is the concept of justice according to Amartya Sen. For him, it’s a matter of capabilities and functionality. Freedom is between these two. In other words, people should be capable of being free to “materialise” their capabilities. Leaving aside the dilemma of the fetus, the woman must be free to always decide what to do in order to consider the act fair.