The Morality of a Free Market for Transplant Organs

Public Affairs Quarterly 5 (1):63-79 (1991)

Mark T. Nelson
Westmont College
There is a world-wide shortage of kidneys for transplantation. Many people will have to endure lengthy and unpleasant dialysis treatments, or die before an organ becomes available. Given this chronic shortage, some doctors and health economists have proposed offering financial incentives to potential donors to increase the supply of transplantable organs. In this paper, I explore objections to the practice of buying and selling organs from the point of view 1) justice, 2) beneficence and 3) Commodification. Regarding objection to the Commodification of transplant organs, I examine a number of possible justifications of this objection but conclude that each of these would, if true, rule out the donation of transplant organs or the selling of numerous accepted commodities, or is implausible for some other reason.
Keywords organ transplantation  kidneys  commodification  justice  market
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