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Unjust organ markets and why it is irrelevant that selling a kidney is the best option
  1. Andreas Albertsen1,2
  1. 1Department of Political Science, School of Business and Social Sciences, Aarhus Universitet, Aarhus, Denmark
  2. 2The Centre for the Experimental-Philosophical Study of Discrimination—CEPDISC, Department of Political Science, Aarhus University, Aarhus, Denmark
  1. Correspondence to Andreas Albertsen, School of Business and Social Sciences: Department of Political Science, Aarhus Universitet, Aarhus, 8000, Denmark; aba{at}


An important argument against prohibiting organ sales is that it removes the best option available to individuals in dire circumstances. However, this line of reasoning fails to recognise that selling a kidney on a regulated market is only the best option in a very narrow comparison, where a regulated organ market is compared with banning organ sales. Once we acknowledge this narrowness, selling a kidney is not the best option. This paves the way for a distributive justice-based critique of the ‘best option’ argument for organ markets, which illuminates that organ markets should be compared with a broader set of alternatives. If providing the option of selling a kidney is not the best option, but rather the best option we are willing to provide, and one which means that many people will remain in poverty and unjust circumstances, then this reflects poorly on those societies willing to offer only this option and not a better one.

  • Kidneys
  • Transplantation
  • Tissue and Organ Procurement
  • Ethics
  • Ethics- Medical

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  • Correction notice Since this article first published, an acknowledgements section has been added.

  • Contributors I am the sole author of this manuscript and thus also the 'guarantor'.

  • Funding This study was funded by Danmarks Frie Forskningsfond (2033-00203B) and Danmarks Grundforskningsfond (DNRF144).

  • Competing interests None declared.

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