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Feature article
Ethics, organ donation and tax: a proposal
  1. Thomas Søbirk Petersen1,
  2. Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen2
  1. 1Department of Philosophy, University of Roskilde, Roskilde, Denmark
  2. 2Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Dr Thomas Søbirk Petersen, Department of Philosophy, University of Roskilde, Roskilde 4000, Denmark; thomassp{at}


Five arguments are presented in favour of the proposal that people who opt in as organ donors should receive a tax break. These arguments appeal to welfare, autonomy, fairness, distributive justice and self-ownership, respectively. Eight worries about the proposal are considered in this paper. These objections focus upon no-effect and counter-productiveness, the Titmuss concern about social meaning, exploitation of the poor, commodification, inequality and unequal status, the notion that there are better alternatives, unacceptable expense, and concerns about the veto of relatives. The paper argues that none of the objections to the proposal is very telling.

  • Allocation of healthcare resources
  • donation/procurement of organs/tissues
  • ethics
  • financial incentives
  • medical ethics
  • organ donation
  • organ shortage
  • philosophical ethics
  • tax

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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