Not a Defence of Organ Markets

Journal of Practical Ethics 7 (3):54-66 (2019)
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Selgelid and Koplin’s article ‘Kidney Sales and the Burden of Proof’ (K&S 2019) presents a series of detailed and persuasive arguments, intended to demolish my own arguments against the prohibition of organ selling. And perhaps they might succeed, if the case described by the authors were anything like the one I actually make. However, notwithstanding the extensive quotations and the detailed explanations of the way I supposedly argue, this account of my position comprehensively mistakes both the conclusions I reach and the arguments I give for them. I know that there are around many misconceptions about my views on this subject, but I have always hoped they could not survive a reading of what I had actually written. I have just—after a gap of many years—looked again at the two most recent of the texts Koplin and Selgelid refer to, and it goes without saying that I can see various things I could now do better; but I do still find these misinterpretations hard to understand. And since anyone with nothing to go on but this article would reasonably conclude that the original texts were not worth reading, I am grateful to the editors for the opportunity to try to set the record straight. I presume not many readers would be interested in a detailed comparative commentary on the texts, showing where this account gets my intentions wrong. I shall try instead to explain how what I do mean—and what I think I say—diverges from what is said here, and then go on to a brief outline of what my arguments and conclusions really are. I hope this may also give some sense of why, for all the opposition I have encountered since I was first drawn into this debate, I persist in thinking that the work I have been doing is important not only for this topic but for analysis in practical ethics more generally.

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