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The Ethics of Transplants: Why Careless Thought Costs Lives.

The Ethics of Transplants: Why Careless Thought Costs Lives. Janet Radcliffe Richards. Oxford University Press. [pounds sterling]16.99. xii + 278 pages. ISBN 978-0-19-9575558. This study, which may be called an example of applied philosophy, asks us to look again at the questions involved in the sale of organs. It is widely regarded as good to donate a kidney during life and after death. It is widely regarded as unthinkable for someone to sell a kidney even though the present system of donation, which depends mainly on after-death 'harvesting', leaves thousands waiting for a transplant. Prof. Richards does not argue that selling is right but rather asks why it should be regarded as wrong. However the very fact of asking if an assumed view is correct means that at least a debate is needed and at most, that the view is itself wrong. She carefully dissects the arguments by use of syllogisms that expose their illogical nature. It does seem odd that when we allow women to have their babies killed in the womb, or removed to die outside it, and while we debate a person's 'right' to have himself killed, that we do not discuss the far less dramatic practice of selling something one can do without to someone who needs it. Whether this will be the opening shot of a national debate or merely a view from a tower remains to be seen: but this is an argument that needs to be aired and one is grateful to Prof. Richards for doing so. (J.M.)
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Publication:Contemporary Review
Article Type:Brief article
Date:Sep 1, 2012
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