Kidney for Sale by Owner

Kidney for Sale by Owner: Human Organs, Transplantation, and the Market

Mark J. Cherry
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 274
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  • Book Info
    Kidney for Sale by Owner
    Book Description:

    Over the past decade in the United States, nearly 6,000 people a year have died waiting for organ transplants. In 2003 alone, only 20,000 out of the 83,000 waiting for transplants received them--in anyone's eyes, a tragedy. Many of these deaths could have been prevented, and many more lives saved, were it not for the almost universal moral hand-wringing over the concept of selling human organs. Bioethicist Mark Cherry explores the why of these well-intentioned misperceptions and legislation and boldly deconstructs the roadblocks that are standing in the way of restoring health to thousands of people. If most Americans accept the notion that the market is the most efficient means to distribute resources, why should body parts be excluded? Kidney for Sale by Owner contends that the market is indeed a legitimate—and humane—way to procure and distribute human organs. Cherry stakes the claim that it may be even more just, and more compatible with many Western religious and philosophical traditions, than the current charity-based system now in place. He carefully examines arguments against a market for body parts, including assertions based on the moral views of John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and Thomas Aquinas, and shows these claims to be steeped in myth, oversimplification, and contorted logic. Rather than focusing on purported human exploitation and the irrational "moral repugnance" of selling organs, Cherry argues that we should focus on saving lives. Following on the thinking of the philosopher Robert Nozick, he demonstrates that, with regard to body parts, the important core humanitarian values of equality, liberty, altruism, social solidarity, human dignity, and, ultimately, improved health care are more successfully supported by a regulated market rather than by well meant, but misguided, prohibitions.

    eISBN: 978-1-58901-355-1
    Subjects: Health Sciences

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. ix-xiv)

    In the United States, more than 44,308 patients died while waiting for organ transplants from 1992 through 2001.¹ An additional 6,385 patients died in 2002, and 6,509 in 2003.² Many others endured painful, life-sustaining measures, while queuing for available organs. Despite the significant potential of commercialization to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of organ procurement and distribution, to shorten waiting time, and thereby to reduce human suffering—while expanding the number of available organs—the possibility of creating a market in human organs for transplantation provokes in many feelings of deep moral repugnance, conjuring up nightmarish images of spare parts...

  5. Chapter One Human Organ Sales and Moral Arguments: The Body for Beneficence and Profit
    (pp. 1-17)

    This study addresses a cluster of conceptually independent philosophical concerns. They are related by an urgent public health challenge: the considerable disparity between the number of patients who could significantly benefit from organ transplantation and the number of human organs available for transplant. In August 2004, more than 86,000 patients in the United States waited on the United Network for Organ Sharing lists for transplants. Yet, in all of 2003 fewer than 26,000 organ transplants of all types were performed.¹ Organ availability is not expected to increase significantly in the near future. Proposals to address this crisis include national educational...

  6. Chapter Two Metaphysics, Morality, and Political Theory: The Presuppositions of Proscription Reexamined
    (pp. 18-71)

    Before forming blanket moral judgments whether to condemn or praise, before even considering likely costs and benefits, one must assess what would have to be granted regarding the relationship of persons with their bodies, the ownership of body parts, and the limits of societal and governmental authority for the sale of human organs for transplantation to be morally permissible. Critical assessment of such commercialization must begin with an exploration of the foundational metaphysical, moral, and political theoretical conditions that would need to be granted, if any, for such a market to be established. Utilization of living vendors, for example, is...

  7. Chapter Three A Market in Human Organs: Costs and Benefits, Vices and Virtues
    (pp. 72-112)

    The previous chapter assessed understandings of embodiment, property, and political authority under which a market in human organs would, all things considered, be morally permissible. These necessary and sufficient conditions were assessed by exploring the relationship between persons and their bodies, the senses in which organs can be property, the distinction between justified and unjustified moral repugnance, and the limits of societal or governmental moral authority to interfere in the exchange of body parts. As the chapter demonstrated, given different understandings of these crucial issues a market becomes more or less morally plausible, thereby increasing or decreasing the moral burden...

  8. Chapter Four The Body, Its Parts, and the Market: Revisionist Interpretations from the History of Philosophy
    (pp. 113-146)

    The previous chapters had two goals: on the one hand, to assess what understandings of embodiment, body ownership, and political authority would have to be granted for a market in human organs, all things being equal, to be morally permissible; and, on the other hand, to assess the costs and benefits that challenge such a ceteris paribus finding, thereby rendering a market in human organs more or less plausible. The advantages and disadvantages of an organ market were assessed by exploring its costs and benefits in health care, the efficient and effective use of scarce resources, whether such a market...

  9. Chapter Five Prohibition: More Harm Than Benefit?
    (pp. 147-162)

    As a field of inquiry, Western bioethics aspires to an international political stage. Bioethicists almost inevitably lay claim to a universal account of morality, and professional moral deportment, including the purported foundations of law and public policy, as well as the moral authority for national law and international treaty to guide and hopefully guarantee uniformity of practice. Its claims are framed as assertions or discoveries of universal truths—for example, that there exists a global consensus that selling human organs for transplantation is a violation of basic human dignity, exploitative, and morally impermissible. Bioethics rarely pays adequate attention to the...

  10. Appendix: Sample of International Legislation Restricting the Sale of Human Organs for Transplantation
    (pp. 163-168)
  11. List of Cases
    (pp. 169-170)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 171-244)
  13. Index
    (pp. 245-258)