Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

The Spirit of Biocapitalism

For those who want some background on the conservative vs. libertarian split on bioethics that will drive the emerging conflict over organ markets, see Eric Cohen’s article in most recent THE NEW ATLANTIS. Either this won’t link or it just won’t link for me, but there is a webpage.
For libertarians, organ markets are, in a way, compassionate conservatism. They will increase the number of kidneys available for transplant, save lives, and free people from a miserable existence on dialysis.

Discussions - 9 Comments

Thank you for pointing out the article Mr. Lawler. If this post will be representative of your future posting, I will be glad to see you here at NLT.

Courtesy of the "demon linker": a link.

I wish it were possible to copyright my name.

What if one doesn’t buy the distinction between "market terms" and "human terms"?

"In market terms, again, this makes sense: a case of two parties valuing different commodities differently." The market requires that people be free to value different commodities differently. It is a fact that people value different commodities differently...But it is much bigger than that...people value different commodities differently because they conceptualise different commodities differently, and I might add that they are free to do so. What sense then does it make to recast this into "human terms"? "it means finding a seller who denies the very human longing that the buyer wishes to act upon. It requires a seller who is willing to betray his or her own flesh and blood offspring—not out of desperation, but for a price." And? that is just a single way of conceptualizing it...obviously someone who saw it that way would would say that no price is enough...but we should have already agreed that not everyone sees it that way...Indeed the market way of seeing things doesn’t require that human beings see or value anything identically...In fact it requires that they don’t. No trade occurs where both parties receive something that they would have been equally happy with had there been no trade.

Obviously the real distinctions between conservatives and libertarians is that the conservatives are very uncomfortable with the unlimited freedom to value...at root the unlimited freedom to conceptualize...which is in a very capitalist sense the freedom of religion/thought...to include everything from protestants to Voltaire. Conservatives make great arguments...and I would urge them to continue doing so...but those are hardly great arguments for Voltaire...Libertarians acknowledge this...but conservatives don’t. Conservatives tend to think that they can make "great arguments" for humanity...Whereas conservatives can only make great arguments for conservatives. Voltaire can only make great arguments for Voltaire. And Smith for Smith, Hegel for Hegel, Marx for Marx. If I am permited the leway to say so myself this is the only sense in which "predestination" makes perfect sense. Of course people can make choices...and be incredibly unideological or incredibly inconsistent in religious matters...but in the end they are always predestined by what they allow to count as an argument in a particular case...the truth they see...the ideal in the eye when they go to buy...this is what moves capitalism...one man’s junk is anothers treasure. Is it junk or is it treasure? A rather useless question. In the old way people would kill each other in the debate...but in capitalism something strange happens... The buyer believes it treasure and is glad to convince the seller it is junk...the seller believes it junk but is glad to convince the buyer that it is treasure.

The author asks:" Could it be that scientific rationalism and post-modern irrationality have more in common than it once seemed?" No it couldn’t be... but obviously any idea can bennefit from the unintended consequences of another ideas acceptance...(isn’t this what a certain portion of politics is all about?) If one idea acts to convince people that something is junk...then why should the person who believes it is treasure and wants to buy it convince the seller that it is not junk(his willingness to purchase it already does this to some extent)? The Buyer is convinced it is treasure...the seller is convinced it is junk...a transaction occurs.

At the risk of being somewhat Marxist I suppose this means that the buyers are happy to propegate ideology that in general cheapens the perception of the commodity (or turns it into a commodity in the first place) that they want to buy...I suppose that the sellers (provided they want to be sellers they are simply doing this to inflate asking price) are interested in arguements that the commodity in question is beyond price...acceptance of this in effect keeps a lot of people from entering the market and driving asking price down...

There is no real sense in which one can talk about a market without in essence talking about how peace is made from an ongoing war of ideas, valuations and judgements.

The last statement, of the libertarians, is certainly true. For society, the issue is not the truth of the statement, but whether or not it reflects something that is right to do, if we live in a moral world. I may be incorrectly presupposing that we do live in a moral world, but I do like to suppose that.

I have been thinking about this true/right issue lately. Recently, someone told me something that may or may not have been true. In my analysis, it was not altogether true. But what this person said was so right and good, that it was better than truth in the situation. Its rightness trumped truth and made the truth, mostly, irrelevant. The thing confused me at first, but then, when I saw the goodness in it, I became grateful for a good lie, that is, a lie full of moral goodness. That moral goodness contains a different kind of truth.

This is the bio-ethical dilemma, isn’t it? In point after point of Eric Cohen’s article, scientifically true things confront a moral truth and in a world where commerce reigns, cost/benefit analysis does not include what these things do to our souls. Of course, we are not meant to know we even have souls anymore. In standing against these amazing inventions of science, when we say, these things ought not be true, we are accused of playing everyone else false, of standing in the way of what is best for this or that individual. I am asked, “What if you needed a kidney to live and the only way to live was to purchase the organ in this way you say is immoral? Isn’t it a moral imperative to keep yourself alive? “ No. Not at any cost, and I am not talking about financial costs. But the argument, and in the 70’s, it was the argument for abortion, too, is that we have no right to choose another’s morality for them. That is true, but I would prefer the good lie, the moral goodness that contains a different kind of truth.

How I offend my sense of order and correctness lately! Not that anyone is reading down here, there being so much else to respond to and read above. Yet, when I glanced here earlier and saw what a hash I had made of this through forgetting the paragraph function, it bothered me enough to force me from my other, real work, to correct myself. Silly. Yet, years of housewifeliness leave habits of mind, and not to neaten up, even something that others may not ever see, was a thorn in the flesh, and God knows, I have enough of those without neglecting to deal with this, an easy one.

The last statement, of the libertarians, is certainly true. For society, the issue is not the truth of the statement, but whether or not it reflects something that is right to do, if we live in a moral world. I may be incorrectly presupposing that we do live in a moral world, but I do like to suppose that. I have been thinking about this true/right issue lately.

Recently, someone told me something that may or may not have been true. In my analysis, it was not altogether true. But what this person said was so right and good, that it was better than truth in the situation. Its rightness trumped truth and made the truth, mostly, irrelevant. The thing confused me at first, but then, when I saw the goodness in it, I became grateful for a good lie, that is, a lie full of moral goodness. That moral goodness contains a different kind of truth.

This is the bio-ethical dilemma, isn’t it? In point after point of Eric Cohen’s article, scientifically true things confront a moral truth and in a world where commerce reigns, cost/benefit analysis does not include what these things do to our souls. Of course, we are not meant to know we even have souls anymore. In standing against these amazing inventions of science, when we say, these things ought not be true, we are accused of playing everyone else false, of standing in the way of what is best for this or that individual. I am asked, “What if you needed a kidney to live and the only way to live was to purchase the organ in this way you say is immoral? Isn’t it a moral imperative to keep yourself alive? “ No. Not at any cost, and I am not talking about financial costs.

But the argument, and in the 70’s, it was the argument for abortion, too, is that we have no right to choose another’s morality for them. That is true, but I would prefer the good lie, the moral goodness that contains a different kind of truth.

Kate, Be assured that I’m reading and appreciating what you’re writing. Eventually I’ll have a moment to respond to--agree with--what you’ve written.

Peter,

What we do without the kindness and forebearance of Christian gentlemen? I was not actually complaining about not being listened to, just noting it to myself and blog-blathering-laughing to myself, truly.

You agree? Please, do not take another moment in this. I’ll go to the curreent head post and praise the Christian gentleman.

Kate, I love the word forebearance. It has it all over tolerance.

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