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

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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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781589010406
  • Publisher: Georgetown University Press
  • Publication date: 3/15/2005
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 274
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Mark J. Cherry is associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at Saint Edward's University in Austin, Texas; and is coeditor with H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr., of Allocating Scarce Medical Resources, senior associate editor of The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, senior associate editor of Christian Bioethics, and editor-in-chief of HealthCare Ethics Committee Forum (HEC Forum).

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Table of Contents

IntroductionChapter One: Human Organ Sales and Moral Arguments: The Body for Beneficence and Profit IntroductionChallenges for Public Health Care Policy"Global Consensus"Prohibition: Controversies and Criticisms

Chapter Two: Metaphysics, Morality, and Political Theory: The Presuppositions of Proscription Reexamined Introduction Initial Considerations: Assessing Standards of Evidence and Placing the Burden of Proof Persons and Body Parts Owning One's Body Repugnance: Adjudication Among Moral Institutions Government, Health Care Policy, and Private Choices Summary

Chapter Three: A Market in Human Organs: Costs and Benefits, Vices and Virtues Introduction Health Care Costs and Benefits Special Moral Costs and Benefits: Equality and Liberty Exploitation: Organ Markets Verses Other Procurement and Allocation Strategies Community, Altruism, and Free Choice Scientific Excellence and the Market Place The Market and Profit: The Virtues and Vices of Free Choice Summary

Chapter Four: The Body, Its Parts, and the Market: Revisionist Interpretations From the History of Philosophy Introduction Major Theories Summary

Chapter Five: Prohibition: More Harmful than Benefit? Aspiring to an International Bioethics False Claims to Moral Consensus Crafting Health Care Policy Amidst Moral Pluralism

Appendix: Sample of International Legislation Restricting the Sale of Human Organs for Transplantation

List of Cases



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