Kantian Condemnation of Commerce in Organs. Samuel Kerstein Associate Professor of Philosophy University of Maryland [email protected] Kantian Moral Principle. Act always in a way that expresses respect for the value of humanity. The Value of humanity: its dignity. Unconditional worth
Act always in a way that expresses respect for the value of humanity.
It is always morally wrong to “deprive oneself of an integral part or organ (to maim oneself) –for example, to . . . sell a tooth to be transplanted into another’s mouth . . .”(Metaphysics of Morals)
Possible argument for claim: Since such an action endangers the seller’s life, it always expresses disrespect for the value of humanity.
But: Tooth extraction isn’t always that risky.
Possible argument for claim: Since the “meaning” of such an action is that the seller himself has the value of a mere tool, available for the right price for others to use as they will, the action always expresses disrespect for the value of humanity.
But: A tooth is not a person.
In Kant’s cultural context, actions of this type tend to promote the notion that poor people have merely the value of tools available for the right price for others to use as they will: a notionthat clasheswith the idea that humanity has dignity.
But if an action is of a type that tends to promote a notion that clashes with the idea that humanity has dignity, then the action fails to express respect for humanity’s dignity.
Therefore, in Kant’s cultural context, actions of the type in question fail to express respect for humanity’s dignity and so are wrong.
Regulated Market comfort is wrong.: A 25-year old, married man in a developing country has struggled as a laborer to make ends meet. Expenses for food, housing, and, especially, medical care for his wife have landed him in debt. His creditors are harassing him to pay up. His government has established a regulated market in organs. A government employee thoroughly describes to the laborer the health risks posed by kidney extraction as well as the benefits he will receive if he agrees to it, including $2,500 and health insurance for life. The man sells his organ and receives the money and insurance coverage.Application to Case of Organ Selling
Let’s assume he performs an action of the type: “poor person sells kidney to government in order to get out of debt.”
Does this type of action tend to promote the notion that some persons have merely the value of tools to be used by others at will?