Organ Markets and Disrespectful Demands

International Journal of Applied Philosophy 31 (2):119-136 (2017)
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There is a libertarian argument for live donor organ markets, according to which live donor organ markets would be permitted if we simply refrained from imposing any substantive and controversial moral assumptions on people who reasonably disagree about morality and justice. I argue that, to the contrary, this endorsement of live donor organ markets depends upon the libertarians’ adoption of a substantive and deeply controversial conception of strong, extensive property rights. This is shown by the fact that these rights would prevent states intervening in cases of preventable and intuitively impermissible wronging of others that can arise when free individuals engage in voluntary offers and exchanges. I outline two forms of such wronging: discrimination and disrespectful demands. I argue that although these types of acts are morally impermissible, the policy question of whether and how they should be regulated by states is non-trivial. I then argue that there is good reason to think that organ markets would rely on disrespectful demands. This may help explain the widespread moral repugnance people feel toward organ trading. It also provides a prima facie, though not decisive, case for states to prohibit such markets.

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Simon Rippon
Central European University


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