Monday, February 22, 2010

Consequences of Self-Ownership

Libertarians often assert that we own our bodies, as property. It's rather hard to argue for such a claim, which operates as a premise of their political philosophy, but many think it reflects our ordinary attitude to rights over ourselves.

That this may in fact have counter-intuitive implications is nicely illustrated by Walzer and Fabre. If our bodies are private property, then we should be able to do what we want with them (subject to not violating others' rights), which would include - for example - selling them (prostitution, organ sales, etc).

There are two related features currently on the BBC website - one about a woman raising money for charity by selling herself for dates and one about the commodification of cadavers. I have an article on organ procurement in the latest Journal of Medical Ethics (subscription required).

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