David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Journal of Medical Ethics 29 (3):139-140 (2003)
This paper offers a positive suggestion for the management of a market in organs for transplant; and in doing so provides a useful opportunity for clarifying the structure of the Great Organ Sales Debate.The issue is in constant need of clarification, because it is usually aired as a political question of the For and Against variety: should organ selling be legal or not? This format usually encourages protagonists to collect into an unsorted heap whatever arguments look as though they might have any persuasive force on their side, and because people may be on the same political side for different moral reasons, or have the same moral principles but reach different political conclusions, the political arguments tend to obscure both the real issues and the logical structure of the controversy.Although attitudes to organ selling seem to have relaxed somewhat since the subject first came to light about a dozen years ago, most professional and political opinion is still against it. But what is the moral basis of this opposition? If you think organ selling should remain illegal, what exactly is your reason? Is it that you regard selling body parts as wrong in itself, irrespective of consequences? Or is it because you think that although it is not wrong in itself, in practice the harms will usually or always outweigh the benefits? Either of these quite different views might support the same political conclusion.In practice, it is not clear that many opponents of organ selling have ever recognised the distinction. Most of …
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