Normative consent and presumed consent for organ donation: a critique

Journal of Medical Ethics 36 (8):498-499 (2010)

Abstract

Ben Saunders claims that actual consent is not necessary for organ donation due to ‘normative consent’, a concept he borrows from David Estlund. Combining normative consent with Peter Singer's ‘greater moral evil principle’, Saunders argues that it is immoral for an individual to refuse consent to donate his or her organs. If a presumed consent policy were thus adopted, it would be morally legitimate to remove organs from individuals whose wishes concerning donation are not known. This paper disputes Saunders' arguments. First, if death caused by the absence of organ transplant is the operational premise, then, there is nothing of comparable moral precedence under which a person is not obligated to donate. Saunders' use of Singer's principle produces a duty to donate in almost all circumstances. However, this premise is based on a flawed interpretation of cause and effect between organ availability and death. Second, given growing moral and scientific agreement that the organ donors in heart-beating and non-heart-beating procurement protocols are not dead when their organs are surgically removed, it is not at all clear that people have a duty to consent to their lives being taken for their organs. Third, Saunders' claim that there can be good reasons for refusing consent clashes with his claim that there is a moral obligation for everyone to donate their organs. Saunders' argument is more consistent with a conclusion of ‘mandatory consent’. Finally, it is argued that Saunders' policy, if put into place, would be totalitarian in scope and would therefore be inconsistent with the freedom required for a democratic society

Download options

PhilArchive



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,694

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Analytics

Added to PP
2010-09-13

Downloads
94 (#127,434)

6 months
1 (#388,319)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

Normative Consent and Opt-Out Organ Donation.B. Saunders - 2010 - Journal of Medical Ethics 36 (2):84-87.

Add more references

Citations of this work

Opt-Out Organ Donation Without Presumptions.Ben Saunders - 2012 - Journal of Medical Ethics 38 (2):69-72.
Normative Consent Is Not Consent.Neil C. Manson - 2013 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 22 (1):33-44.
Presumed Consent and Organ Donation.Hugh Upton - 2012 - Clinical Ethics 7 (3):142-146.
Normative Consent is Not Consent.Neil Manson - 2013 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 22 (1):33-44.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Presumed Consent, Autonomy, and Organ Donation.Michael B. Gill - 2004 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (1):37 – 59.
Can Consent Be Presumed?Govert den Hartogh - 2011 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 28 (3):295-307.
Normative Consent and Opt-Out Organ Donation.B. Saunders - 2010 - Journal of Medical Ethics 36 (2):84-87.
Organ Donation by Capital Prisoners in China: Reflections in Confucian Ethics.M. Wang & X. Wang - 2010 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 35 (2):197-212.
Autonomy, Consent and the Law.Sheila McLean - 2009 - Routledge-Cavendish.
Consent and Its Cousins.William A. Edmundson - 2011 - Ethics 121 (2):335-53.
Presumed Consent for Organ Retrieval.Arthur J. Matas & Frank J. Veith - 1984 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 5 (2).