Theses Master's

Toward a New Consensus on Posthumous Organ Procurement: Some Insights from “Routine Retrieval” Proposals

Moorthy, Gyan

Routine retrieval organ procurement proposals assert that individuals in organ failure or the community can make moral claims on potential organ donors that override what should, at most, be characterized as their prima facie right to direct the disposition of their remains. They advocate the taking of organs from the deceased without their or their families’ consent. They may specify that individuals can opt out but are likely to restrict the permissible reasons for or attach a cost to doing so. My purpose in this paper is to examine the moral ideas – about the relationship between the body and the self, and between the self and others – that underpin various routine retrieval proposals. I explore criticisms of those ideas and their scope and application, as well as of translating morality into law generally. I submit that routine retrieval proposals are useful because they return our attention to the seriousness of the organ shortage and the consequences of failing to redress it in a way that other organ procurement proposals and policies do not. They are good starting points for overdue conversations about human interdependence and finitude, and the limits of respect for choice and different values. These conversations could ultimately produce an overlapping consensus on posthumous organ procurement that may or may not support routine retrieval but should lead to increased total donor organ supply. They could lay the foundation for a kinder, more just and more solidary society – one that rises to help its most vulnerable, meet common threats and promote individual flourishing.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Kuflik, Arthur
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
November 2, 2021