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Black markets, transplant kidneys and interpersonal coercion
  1. J S Taylor
  1. Correspondence to:
 J S Taylor
 Department of Philosophy, The College of New Jersey, 2000 Pennington Road, PO Box 7718, Ewing, NJ 08628-0718, USA;jtaylor{at}


One of the most common arguments against legalising markets in human kidneys is that this would result in the widespread misuse that is present in the black market becoming more prevalent. In particular, it is argued that if such markets were to be legalised, this would lead to an increase in the number of people being coerced into selling their kidneys. Moreover, such coercion would occur even if markets in kidneys were regulated, for those subject to such coercion would not be able to avail themselves of the legal protections that regulation would afford them. Despite the initial plausibility of this argument, there are three reasons to reject it. Firstly, the advantages of legalising markets in human kidneys would probably outweigh its possible disadvantages. Secondly, if it is believed that no such coercion can ever be tolerated, markets in only those human kidneys that fail to do away with coercion should be condemned. Finally, if coercion is genuinely opposed, then legalising kidney markets should be supported rather than opposed, for more people would be coerced (ie, into not selling) were such markets to be prohibited.

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  • Competing interests: None.

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