Markets and the needy: organ sales or aid?

J Appl Philos. 2001;18(3):297-302. doi: 10.1111/1468-5930.00196.


As organ shortages have become more accute, support for a market in organs has steadily increased. Whilst many have argued for such a market, it is Gerald Dworkin who most persuasively defends its ethics. As Dworkin points out, there are two possibilities here--a futures market and a current market. I follow Dworkin in focusing on a current market in the sale of organs from living donors, as this is generally considered to be the most difficult to justify. One of the most pressing concerns here is that such a market will exploit the poor. I outline this concern and scrutinize Dworkin's and others' rejection of it. Briefly, I argue that the arguments Dworkin employs for allowing the poor to sell their organs fail, and in fact better support an argument for increasing aid to the needy.

MeSH terms

  • Commerce*
  • Ethics
  • Human Body*
  • Humans
  • Living Donors
  • Poverty
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement / economics*