In the context of the controversy sparked by the article published last week comparing infanticide (which it refers to as 'after-birth abortion') to abortion, I thought it might be useful to highlight Sarah Hrdy’s work on infanticide, both among humans and among other animals (see here for example). Some attempts to refute the analogy between abortion and infanticide presented in the polemic paper (see here for example) argued that infanticide is unnatural among humans, and hardly ever practiced.
Now, in her book Mother Nature Hrdy argues convincingly that infanticide is much more widespread among humans than we like to think. One need not agree with her attribution of a fitness-enhancing component to the practice of infanticide (criticized for example in this paper) to be convinced by the data she presents, indicating the ubiquity of the practice among humans. My point here is not to argue that, since humans practice it, it must be a legitimate practice (I did take ‘Is-ought fallacy 101’ after all), but simply to point out that there is a lot of misconception out there concerning actual occurrences of infanticide among humans (and other species). Everyone interested in the topic would benefit from a closer analysis of Hrdy’s work, even from a ‘purely philosophical’ point of view (i.e. the ‘ought’ side of the story).