The Market for Bodily Parts: Kant and duties to oneself

Journal of Applied Philosophy 6 (2):129-140 (1989)
Abstract
The demand for bodily parts such as organs is increasing, and individuals in certain circumstances are responding by offering parts of their bodies for sale. Is there anything wrong in this? Kant had arguments to suggest that there is, namely that we have duties towards our own bodies, among which is the duty not to sell parts of them. Kant's reasons for holding this view are examined, and found to depend on a notion of what is intrinsically degrading. Rom Harré's recent revision of Kant's argument, in terms of an obligation to preserve the body's organic integrity, is considered. Harré's view does not rule out all acts of selling, but he too ultimately depends on a test of what is intrinsically degrading. Both his view and Kant's are rejected in favour of a view which argues that it does make sense to speak of duties towards our own bodies, grounded in the duty to promote the flourishing of human beings, including ourselves. This provides a reason for opposing the sale of bodily parts, and the current trend towards the market ethic in health care provision.
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John Harris (1975). The Survival Lottery. Philosophy 50 (191):81 - 87.
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