Why this and not that? (228)

That was, in essence, Shemori’s question: Why is it okay to sell sperm and eggs and not solid organs?

It’s a good question.

I think the response I offered—that these have been two separate narratives, shaped by particular events—is a reasonable one, but it speaks more to the history of the trajectories than their current, and apparently similar, location on the political and bioethical landscape.

So I turn Shemori’s question back to you, with a few emendations: Why is it okay to sell sperm and eggs and not solid organs? Are the two situations really all that similar, or is there something fundamentally different about the cases? Does it matter that gametes (sperm and egg) are a ‘renewable’ resource and organs are not? Should it matter?

Does it matter that the market in gametes involve issues of infertility—and not, as in organ transplantation, life and death?

Should these two situations continue along their separate political and ethical trajectories, or should those lines merge? And if they do merge, how should they do so? Should a market for organs be developed? Should the market in sperm and eggs be shut down? What of regulation?

Gutmann and Thompson deliberate over surrogacy; ought these matters be subject to deliberation? And if so, how should or would or could (these are three separate questions, with likely three different responses) such deliberation take place? How much education should take place within or prior to deliberation? What of the role of experts? What of the roles of those most affected by the issues? What of the general, concerned, citizen?

Some of you were wondering about the next paper, and what you could or ought to write on. Perhaps you could take some of these questions, or consider a similar set of issues (‘why this and not that’) and ask the appropriate questions.

In any case, thanks, Shemori, for asking a really good question.

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About proftp

I teach political science and bioethics as an adjunct at a CUNY school.
This entry was posted in Pol 228 Democracy and Its Critics and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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