Markets in Kidneys: A Moral Case

James Stacey Taylor,

Release Date
November 21, 2011


Civil Liberties

Prof. James Stacey Taylor argues that willing rational adults should be allowed to buy and sell kidneys. Instead of providing complex theoretical arguments, one can look at the human stories to see why markets in kidneys should be allowed. Peter Randall, for instance, became famous in 2003 for offering his kidney for sale on eBay. He was offering his kidney for sale to raise money for therapy for his six-year-old daughter, Alice, who was suffering from cerebral palsy.
A market for kidneys would allow people like Peter to sell his kidney legally and safely. Additionally, a market in kidneys enables individuals to purchase a kidney in order to alleviate the suffering caused by dialysis.
Some may accept the arguments above, but feel that the gift of life is too priceless to place a price tag on. However, when the sale of kidneys is illegal, as it is now in the United States, everyone in a transplant operation is paid except for the kidney donor. According to Prof. Taylor, this seems wrong. The sale of kidneys should be allowed just like the sale of all other medical products and services. Banning kidney sales means that people like Alice will not receive the therapy they need and also ensure that thousands of people will suffer through crippling dialysis.

Desert Island Game (game, beginner): Can you learn something about trade and cooperation by being marooned on a desert island?
Trade Ruler (game, advanced): As the Supreme Ruler of an island, you want the country to prosper. By engaging in international trade, you can achieve this goal.