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Ethics, organ donation and tax: a reply to Quigley and Taylor
  1. Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen1,
  2. Thomas Søbirk Petersen2
  1. 1Aarhus University, Political Science Department, Aarhus, Denmark
  2. 2Division of Philosophy, University of Roskilde, Roskilde, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Thomas Søbirk Petersen, Division of Philosophy, University of Roskilde, Universitetsvej 1, 4000 Roskilde, Denmark; thomassp{at}

A national opt-out system of post-mortem donation of scarce organs is preferable to an opt-in system. Unfortunately, the former system is not always feasible, and so in a recent JME article we canvassed the possibility of offering people a tax break for opting-in as a way of increasing the number of organs available for donation under an opt-in regime. Muireann Quigley and James Stacey Taylor criticize our proposal. Roughly, Quigley argues that our proposal is costly and, hence, is unlikely to be implemented, while Taylor contests our response to a Titmuss-style objection to our scheme. In response to Quigley, we note that our proposal’s main attraction lies in gains not reflected in the figures presented by Quigley and that the mere fact that it is costly does not imply that it is unfeasible. In response to Taylor, we offer some textual evidence in support of our interpretation of Taylor and responds to his favoured interpretation of the Titmuss-style objection that many people seem to want to donate to charities even if they can deduct their donations from their income tax. Finally, we show why our views do not commit us to endorsing a free organ-market.

  • Allocation of healthcare resources
  • donation/procurement of organs/tissues
  • philosophical ethics

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  • Linked articles 100501.R1, 100505, 100163.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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