1st Edition

Stakes and Kidneys Why Markets in Human Body Parts are Morally Imperative

By James Stacey Taylor Copyright 2005

    It is well known that the numbers of organs that become available each year for transplantation fall far short of the numbers that are actually required. In this boldly argued book James Stacey Taylor contends that, given both this shortage and the desperate poverty that some people endure, it is morally imperative that the current methods of organ procurement be supplemented by a legal, regulated market for human transplant organs purchased from live vendors. Taylor pays particular attention to outlining the implications that recognizing the moral legitimacy of these market transactions in human body parts and reproductive capacities have for public policy.

    Contents: The problem - and some proposed solutions; Dworkin on autonomy, fear, and kidney sales; Is the typical kidney vendor forced to sell?; Constraining options and kidney markets; A moral case for market regulation; Kidney sales and dangerous employment; Human dignity and the fear of commodification; Commodification, altruism and kidney procurement; Conclusion; Bibliography; Index.


    James Stacey Taylor is Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Department of Philosophy and Religion, The College of New Jersey, USA.

    'James Stacey Taylor has written the most comprehensive treatment of the problem of markets in kidneys.  It is probably also the best treatment of the subject. His arguments that a legal trade in human organs would best solve the organ shortage are more sophisticated and compelling than any I have seen.'  Tom L. Beauchamp, Professor of Philosophy and Senior Research Scholar, Georgetown University, Washington DC    'In this erudite and insightful volume James Stacey Taylor defends not only the moral permissibility of human organ sales but also their moral necessity. Taylor argues that the establishment of regulated markets in human body parts is morally imperative and his arguments for such institutions are based on two of the most widely-held values in the Bioethics literature today, namely human well-being and respect for autonomy. He suggests that if we take these values seriously, and explore their meaning in any substantial detail, it soon becomes apparent that we are obliged to legalise sales in this area. Taylor also deals, in an exhaustive and remarkably even-handed manner, with the central objections to commercial human organ sales and finds them wanting. Special attention here is paid to the Kantian objection that these sales evacuate the dignity of those who sell their organs and the objection that such sales are coercive. His treatment of these objections is particularly subtle. For those in favour of human organ sales, the publication of this book will be a very welcome event indeed, for it contains a great deal of original and incisive argumentation in support of their cause. For opponents of such markets Taylor presents a genuine challenge. Given that Taylor has presented such compelling arguments in favour of the commodification of human organs, the task for opponents of markets is to show where, and how it is that, Taylor is wrong. Stakes and Kidneys then is a significant and timely addition to current philosophical debates regarding