Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 22 (2):221-230 (2019)

The paper argues that the idea of gift-giving and its associated imagery, which has been founding the ethics of organ transplants since the time of the first successful transplants, should be abandoned because it cannot effectively block arguments for markets in human body parts. The imagery suggests that human bodies or their parts are transferable objects which belong to individuals. Such imagery is, however, neither a self-evident nor anthropologically unproblematic construal of the relation between a human being and their body. The paper proposes an alternative conceptualization of that relation, the identity view according to which a human being is identical with their living body. This view, which offers a new ethical perspective on some central concepts of transplant medicine and its ethical and legal standards and institutions, supports widely shared intuitive ethical judgments. On this proposal, an act of selling a human body or one of its parts is an act of trade in human beings, not in owned objects. Transfers of human body parts for treatment purposes are to be seen as sharing in another human being’s misfortune rather than as giving owned objects. From the perspective of policy-making, the proposal requires, first, that informed consent for removal of transplant material be obtained from the potential benefactor. Secondly, explicit consent by the prospective benefactor is obligatory in the case of removal of transplant material from a living benefactor. Thirdly, in the case of posthumous retrieval, informed consent by the potential benefactor during their life is not ethically indispensable. Additionally, while refusal of posthumous retrieval expressed by a potential benefactor during their life must be respected, such a refusal needs ethical justification and explanation.
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DOI 10.1007/s11019-018-9862-x
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Citations of this work BETA

Pure Altruistic Gift and the Ethics of Transplant Medicine.Paweł Łuków - 2020 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 17 (1):95-107.

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