David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 28 (1):89 – 114 (2003)
Feminist analysis of cultural mythology surrounding organ donation offers a critical perspective on current U.S. transplant policy. My argument is three-pronged. First, I argue that organ donation is appropriately understood as a sacrifice. Structurally, donation accords both to general and to specifically Christian archetypes of sacrifice. The characterization of donation as sacrifice resonates in the cultural psyche even though it is absent in public rhetoric. Second, I characterize widespread feminist concerns about the over-glorification of sacrifice. These concerns provide a helpful framework for considering whether the sacrifice of organ donation is over-glorified in our culture. Third, I consider several specific aspects of organ recruitment and organ allocation. Each demonstrates an over-glorification of sacrifice that leads to a dangerous "routinization" of sacrifice. None of these excesses are addressable without due attention to the symbolic import of organ donation and transplantation. I close by suggesting lessons my analysis offers to Christian churches who support donation, to the discourse of bioethics, and to the general public.
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Citations of this work BETA
Annette Dufner (forthcoming). Blood Products and the Commodification Debate: The Blurry Concept of Altruism and the ‘Implicit Price’ of Readily Available Body Parts. HEC Forum:1-13.
Govert den Hartogh (2012). The Role of the Relatives in Opt-in Systems of Postmortal Organ Procurement. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 15 (2):195-205.
Amy Mullin (2006). Parents and Children: An Alternative to Selfless and Unconditional Love. Hypatia 21 (1):181-200.
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