Article Text

other Versions

Download PDFPDF
Tacitly consenting to donate one's organs
  1. Govert den Hartogh
  1. Correspondence to Dr Govert den Hartogh, Department of Philosophy, University of Amsterdam, Staten Bolwerk 16, 2011 ML Haarlem, The Netherlands; g.a.denhartogh{at}


The common objection to opt-out systems of postmortal organ procurement is that they allow removal of a deceased person's organs without their actual consent. However, under certain conditions it is possible for ‘silence’—failure to register any objection—conventionally and/or legally to count as genuine consent. Prominent conditions are that the consenter should be fully informed about the meaning of his or her silence and that the costs of registering dissent should be insignificant. This paper explicates this thesis and discusses some possible objections to it: (1) it cannot possibly be guaranteed that each citizen is aware of the meaning of silence; and (2) the system is slightly manipulative because it exploits a common defect in autonomous decision-making.

  • Donation/procurement of organs/tissues
  • manipulation
  • opt-out system
  • organ donation
  • presumed consent
  • tacit consent

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.


  • Competing interests None.

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

Other content recommended for you