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Commentary on Simon Rippon, ‘Imposing options on people in poverty: the harm of a live donor organ market’
  1. Adrian Walsh
  1. Correspondence to Dr Adrian Walsh, Philosophy Discipline, School of Humanities, UNE, New South Wales 2351, Australia; awalsh{at}

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In debates over the legitimacy of markets for live human organs, much hinges on the moral standing of desperate exchanges. Can people in desperate circumstances genuinely choose to sell their organs? Alternatively if they do choose to sell, then surely is it their choice? While sales are banned in most of the Western world due to fears that the poor will be exploited, advocates of these markets find such prohibition unconscionably paternalistic; and from the standpoint of contemporary liberal theory, paternalism is anathema. Is it possible to provide grounds for blocking such desperate exchanges which are not at the same time paternalistic?

In ‘Imposing Options on People in Poverty: the Harm of a Live Donor Organ Market', Simon Rippon argues that some options in the market do in fact harm. According to Rippon, if we focus on possible negative consequences of increasing an agent's options, one can develop an argument against human organ markets which is not paternalistic or focused on the idea of exploitation. Whether his account is, as stated, non-paternalistic is an open question, but his analysis of the implications of increased commercial options provides an illuminating and original critique of the human organ markets.

Rippon labels his opponents' view the ‘Laissez-choisir Argument’ (LC). According to LC, blocking exchanges …

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  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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