I have been awarded a 5 month non-residential research fellowship at the Experience Project to work on my project "Mother Knows Best: Pregnancy, Applied Ethics and Epistemically Transformative Experiences."
I'll be exploring whether there is some morally relevant knowledge that is accessible only, or primarily, to people who have been pregnant - and the ramifications for the debate about abortion and in applied ethics more widely.
The project springs from my dissatisfaction with the philosophical literature on abortion after pregnancy. Although, I've been interested in the ethics of abortion for many years, after being pregnant most of philosophical literature suddenly appeared cold, bloodless; it did not reflect what pregnancy is like. At the same time, I noticed how difficult it was to explain what it is like to be pregnant to someone who had not had that experience.
This is worrying: could there be knowledge which is crucial for ethical debate on issues such as abortion which is only accessible to people who have been pregnant? How should philosophers respond to this?
There are wider implications for it seems that there may be similar missing information in debates on famine relief, just war theory, etc. Each of these involves experiences we may struggle to grasp without undergoing. At worst, our very ability to do applied ethics is threatened. My conclusion, however, is envisaged to be optimistic.
I envisage proposing a system of ‘due care’ in considering relevant experiences that makes meaningful work in applied ethics possible.
I'm so excited, both about my own project, and to be part of this fantastic wider project!