Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Kidney Markets?

The issue before the President’s Bioethics Council next week is the case for and against developing a market in kidneys from the living as the only effective way to handle the growing waiting of list of people whose kidneys have failed and are stuck with dialysis and impending death. Gil Meilaender of the Council has written a moving and most intelligent essay on the violence to our self-undersanding that the acceptance of such a market (as opposed to organ donation) would require. But a student of John Locke might respond: Don’t we have property in our own bodies? And why shouldn’t I use that resource to both help myself and someone else? This may well be destined to become a tough and contentious issue, and its emergence is yet another sign of the creeping libertarianism of our time.

Discussions - 2 Comments

I shouldn’t bother replying... but Gil Meilaender is an incipent theocrat. That is he wants his theological position to rule and inform decision making at a national level. It would be something entirely different if he was simply questioning our conceptions of what it is to be a human being. I am sure his arguments are quite persuasive for Catholics...and perhaps others...and I suppose he is free to persuade them. But our Republic isn’t based on mediated rights...that is it isn’t based on an ontologized(and thus particular) conception of human being. Rights aren’t mediated such that whoever has the biggest stick at any historical moment can ontologize human being and the meaning of rights at will(Our Supreme Court may disagree...) Rights are abstract such that whoever has the biggest stick is still free to ontologize rights...but so is the man with no stick at all. This is the true meaning of Freedom of Religion, Freedom of thought, freedom of speech...and this is why true Capitalism proceeds from Individual Rights... The Lockean argument for an Organ Market isn’t a Kantian argument... The Lockeian need not even agree that organ donation/sale is a good or moral act. For the Lockeian even if organ donation was a good or moral act it would not entail an obligation to donate(we would never be justified in forcing Catholics of Meilander’s type to donate...without recourse to a particular moral argument whose imposition on a National policy level would violate said Individual Rights...by essentially mediating them(wedding them to a particular theological/moral/ideological position...or as I say ontologizing them.)And this is why Kant is essentially a tyrant...his ethics involve ontologizing all ethical questions. Kant might say that there is an ethical obligation to donate...that applies to all people regardless of personal selfish beliefs/reservations.

If you want to know what trully seperates the United States from Europe and the rest of the world it is important to understand clearly the extent to which we have operated politically within the medium of non-ontologized(non-mediated or abstract rights)at least as an ideal if not in practice. I repeat my assertion to all Burkeans out there....the french revolution failed because it was all about a power grab over how to ontologize rights/duties...see the never ending constitutional convention...the living constitution that killed France.

Within the american conception of Rights the catholic should act to convince and perhaps even evangelize...but he should not act to squash the idea of a market. A market in Organs provided it does not force the unwilling to donate or otherwise employ coersion is just as moral of an institution as the catholic church itself. The same basic principle that permits Catholicism as a religion permits free persons to form together for the sale of Organs or anything else.

Notice that we do not permit Protestants or atheists for that matter to Ontologize Catholicism such that belief in such a religion is deemed irrational an thus outlawed at a national level..or rather we permit this on a personal level... a lot of Protestants and a lot of atheists for various differing reasons believe that Catholics are irrational...and all people that believe strongly in anything believe that those who believe differently are irrational...we are permited these beliefs...and we are encouraged to share them...but we aren’t allowed to forbid what we consider irrational.

If some are still not convinced of my arguments as they apply to the United States or a conception of individual rights...consider that when we talk of markets we assume a rational agent...and the only way to truly do this is to avoid ontologizing rationality...if we were capable of ontologizing rationality we wouldn’t need markets to arrive at a price level.

In other words... I can’t tell you what a Kidney is worth. I can tell you that in general a Kidney is probably worth more to Gil Meilaender than it is to the average joe. I can also tell you that in general a Kidney is probably worth more to a person far up the kidney list...than it is to a healthy person. I can tell you that in general a person is more likely to be convinced of arguments against a kidney market if he is healthy...on the other hand I am healthy...and don’t really want to sell my Kidneys...but I support the Market on principle...I also suppose it is possible to be dying on dialysis and agree with Gil Meilaender...It is a free country and it is a free country because we are allowed to live or die our convinctions...not because the convictions of others determine if we live or die.

If things like Reason and Rights start to take on Ousiotic structures not just in historically inevitable practice but also in principle and theory...we will have truly lost our freedom.

I’m sure someone will suggest the surplus of Falun Gong kidneys as an outsourcing possibility.Falun Gong kidney

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