My Kidney’s On The Market

But my heart’s with William Brafford. There is something viscerally distasteful about buying and selling human body parts, but it’s extremely difficult to quantify this unease, particularly when we’re forced to weigh it against the real need of prospective organ recipients. To take a less serious example, I’d like to level every Northern Virginia suburb not named Hollin Hills, but allowing families to buy reasonably priced homes probably takes precedence over my personal  zoning preferences. I emphatically reject the idea that public policy should completely discount matters of aesthetics or (pardon the pun) gut instinct, but I guess we need to find a better way to articulate these objections in the public square.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “My Kidney’s On The Market

  1. “I guess we need to find a better way to articulate these objections in the public square.”

    I’m not dead-set against organ markets or anything, but I think we need to be realistic about what kind of social-psychological barriers we’d have to get past, and what consequences we might be incurring with respect to our view of our bodies. I’m not up to date on any other aspects of the policy discussion, so I left those out…

    I thought it was interesting that E.N.B. jokingly characterized kidney-donating as a “holy” arrangement, because “holy” in the sense of “set apart” sort of rings true to me, for the reasons I tried to explain.

  2. Agree entirely, and my point wasn’t that organ markets are always beyond the pale. Simply that there are real objections to trading human body parts – the “ick factor,” if you will – that aren’t easily quantified but should still be included in any discussion.

  3. Elizabeth

    William—I don’t really think there *is* a policy discussion to be up on; it seems to be one of those discussions that’s largely hypothetical (I could totally be wrong, correct me if I am). Anyway, curious what you mean by the “consequences we might be incurring with respect to our view of our bodies.” And, Will, I think the “ick factor” objections are the ones that mainly are included in discussion. I’d like to hear non ick-factor reasons. The only one I can think of is the poor-people-would-be-more-likely-to-sell argument (which I don’t think holds weight, but is one you hear often from liberals nonetheless).

  4. Fair enough, but I think there should be a way to translate our instinctive aversion to organ trading into something more intelligible to people who don’t share any religious or moral objections to the practice.

  5. Pingback: The Ick Factor «

  6. I’m sure this will not be a satisfying answer, but:

    I tend to think of myself as my body, an integrated whole… one some level, this has to be a myth: I bleed, I grow new skin, I could lose an arm and still be me, etc. But I have trouble imagining what’s inside my skin as a collection of objects or machine parts. No clue whether other people feel this way.

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