30 March 2012

Why Not Sell?

Alex Tabarrok, in reference to encouraging people to become organ donors:

I am not in favor of messing with the insurance system for this purpose but have argued for a more direct approach. Under what I call a “no-give, no-take” rule if you are not willing to sign your organ donor card you go to the bottom of the list should you one day need an organ. Israel recently introduced a version of no-give, no take which gives those who previously signed their organ donor cards points pushing them up the list should they need an organ transplant–as a result, tens of thousands of people rushed to sign their organ donor cards.

This doesn’t strike me as a difficult issue to solve.  Open the market up, and allow people to buy and sell their organs.  I realize that this sounds crude, and possibly exploitative to some. But if this increases the number of organ donations, and consequently the number of lives saved, wouldn’t it be worth it?  Or must we insist on moral posturing at the expense of human life?


  1. No, it wouldn't be worth it. The organ donor industry is already a money making racket, although not for the donors. Except for cases where the donor can donate an organ and remain living (e.g. one of two kidneys), the organ donor racket is immoral. 'Death' was redefined in order to make it possible.

  2. @Carnivore- all markets are, by their nature, amoral. The participants may have noble or ignoble reasons for their actions, but oftentimes the motivations of market participants is unknowable by outside observers. Therefore, the only judgments that can be made about the motivations of market participants is whether they value the goods or services that are offered. This is a (subjective) value judgment, and reflects the pecuniary value one places on an object. Obviously, this is not a moral value.