Consent and the acquisition of organs for transplantation

HEC Forum 21 (1):55-69 (2009)
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Abstract

The two most commonly discussed and implemented rationales for acquiring organs for transplantation give consent a central role. I argue that such centrality is a mistake. The reason is that practices of consent serve only to respect patients as autonomous beings. The primary issue in acquiring organs for transplantation, however, is how it is appropriate to treat a newly non-autonomous being. Once autonomy and consent are dislodged from their central position, considerations of utility and fairness take a more prominent position. On the basis of these values, a strongly suggestive moral case is presented for routinely harvesting organs for transplantation.

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