Posted in Bioethics by Peter Lawler
Mr. Lawler is for the regulation of markets and uses the marxist language of self-commodification. Where is the link to Fredric Jameson? A kidney-market will exploit the less well off to sell their kidneys, just like millions desperately bought into bad mortgages. Look to have as many tissue-donation centers as we have payday lending franchises in the years to come.
I too have long suspected Lawler of being a Commie out of sympathy for the poor!
A preferential option for the poor is Catholic, not communistic.
That said, I wonder how Professor Lawler has been seduced into the assumption that those who need donor kidneys somehow have a right to receive them. Whatever happened to embracing our human finitude? Doesn't the presence of a "redundant" organ sort of fly in the face of natural law? Also, I think he downplays the significance of living on one kidney; many people are severely affected, living with weakened immune systems after the fact. Also, an alarming rate of depression fells those who have DONATED kidneys--pointing to the mucking up of familial relationships. For a healthy daughter to donate to her "formerly" alcoholic father, only to have him relapse--well, that takes a toll, and is more common than you might imagine.
Paul Ramsey tackled the interpersonal aspects of kidney donation early on, and to my mind he remains most compelling on the subject. He suggested that those who freely give should freely receive. LifeSharers has taken up this notion, and while it remains sort of extra-legal, I like the concept.
Various religious sects have a lot to say about organ donation, and it's great to be having this conversation; it mustn't be reduced to politics and economics alone. One can't underestimate the dynamic of coercion, though, especially inter-family coercion. Isn't part of a conservative bioethics resisting to pull to keep folks alive at all costs? To care, even if you can't cure?
What nom says actually is pretty close to some of my mussings involving why we have a nanny state. Growing up some children didn't like the peer pressure of going to parties and drinking, so they told parents the truth, ensuring they were banned from doing what they didn't want to do in the first place, but at least they could always fall back on: my parents say I can't go. Carlos Mencia has a pretty accurate skit where he discusses why he mooved out of LA in terms of how he always hated his homeboys parking on his lawn. In his "white" neihborhood all sorts of regulations exist. He has various bitches about how capitalism/freedom and being in america should allow him to do what he wants with his own property, then his relatives/friends from LA show up and he is glad that regulations prevent parking on his lawn. So he uses the regulations as an excuse/incentive. It is quite similar to how we prevent/discourage people from smoking by making it difficult. If you have to walk down stairs accross the street and do so in foul weather to boot...just to have a smoke...well then turning down a smoke is less a question of not being social(which is how the habit starts) than not desireing to be put upon. So regulations exist so we can complain about them, but also serve to shield us from giving in to others in matters where we don't desire to do so.
Good work, Peter, and great analysis on kidneys. I wish I were with you in Quebec! Here we're reading Shakespeare. Coriolanus is a great play to read this campaign season (Obama bears some resemblance too), though i wept at Lear today. Can't wait till you return, perhaps to explain precisely how it is Oabama will not beat himself! OK, he will trim on a dime. But he's lamentably choking on race at the same time he can't stop playing the role of political Messiah. John's got him now by the you know what.
One of the unfortunate consequences of the path to govt regulated kidney markets that you describe is that it will take a genuine opportunity for moral sacrifice and make it something closer to shameful---I would imagine the kind of person in dire enough straights to sell their kidney for cash will be less than proud of of what they've done....and will everyone be compensated, including the child who saves their own parent? Of course, I agree that such scenarios are probably inevitable not just because of our increasing libertarianism but also because dangers like commodification, as really important as I think they are, will likely seem to most folks incredibly abstract in comparison to the palpable suffering of those who really need a kidney.
The deadly c's: compassion, commodification, commercialization, contractualization (sp?). All need to be properly kept in bounds (something like what was argued in Spheres of Justice).
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