Exploitation, autonomy, and the case for organ sales

Int J Appl Philos. Spring 1998;12(1):89-95. doi: 10.5840/ijap19981219.


A recent argument in favor of a free market in human organs claims that such a market enhances personal autonomy. I argue here that such a market would, on the contrary, actually compromise the autonomy of those most likely to sell their organs, namely, the least well off members of society. A Marxian-inspired notion of exploitation is deployed to show how, and in what sense, this is the case.

MeSH terms

  • Capitalism*
  • Commerce*
  • Communism*
  • Ethical Analysis
  • Human Body*
  • Humans
  • Paternalism*
  • Personal Autonomy*
  • Poverty*
  • Social Justice
  • Tissue Donors*
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / economics*
  • Vulnerable Populations