Altruism Essay

1987 words - 8 pages

Should there be a legal market for the transplant of kidneys from live donors? If so, what form should this market take? If not, how should the shortage of kidneys for transplant be addressed?
First I am going to argue that that a upholding the right to self-ownership should be a justification in allowing for an unregulated legal market for the transplant of kidneys from live donors.
Second I will explain how the negative externality that would occur due to the existence of a new market for live kidneys, would create a decrease in the welfare of society through behavioural effects in other similar markets. I will counter this argument by explaining that there would be an overall net gain ...view middle of the document...

Such a right would centre its justification on moral and freedom based reasoning that an individual should be able to participate in any market transaction of a good that he/she owns and any such prevention to do so would violate an individuals’ right.
This is as ownership of a good entails the owner to have power over access to its exclusive use and the ability to freely pass ownership to another agent. Therefore to block the existence of such a market would unfairly limit the freedom of an individual who wishes to exercise ownership powers (assuming individuals are the rightful owners of their own bodies) and therefore weigh unfairly against individuals who have a preference for the existence of a kidney market. This shows that upholding these rights is important when considering the effective freedom available to all individuals and values their autonomy in respect to their desired preferences.
A negative externality is a cost faced by a third party agent due to an economic transaction. In this case the increased participation of individuals willing to supply a kidney in exchange for a monetary gain would dilute the value that society places on the contribution that altruistic behaviour makes in society (an altruist believes in selfless behaviour and incorporates the welfare of others positively as a function of their own utility).
This is as preventing the exclusivity of having only altruistic donors for a certain organ, would cause society to perceive a downward bias on the true positive effect created by altruistic behaviour. This occurs due to the distortion created by the large benefits of having a market for kidneys, which clouds the true value of virtuous selfless behaviour that drives the supply of altruistic donations.
This would therefore cause a decrease in the number of altruistically driven donations for the organ market in general. This is as individuals that participate in altruistic behaviour take into the consideration the value that other agents place on such behaviour. This is in order to decide whether acting altruistically would not only satisfy their altruistic preference but also bear an increase in satisfying other personal preferences that are not altruistically related. Such as the way others view them as virtuous and vital additions to the benefit of society.
The presence of a market provides the opportunity for a donor and recipient to take part in a transaction that better improves the utility of both individuals (by capturing dead weight loss) assuming they both place heterogeneous values on the kidney (e.g. the donor values his kidney at £1000, yet receives £1200 and the recipient values the transplant of the kidney at £1500 yet only pays £1200). Such an exchange would lead to a Pareto improvement in terms of utility, which is defined as the movement towards an alternative state in which no one is made worse-off and at least one person is made better off; if such a state does exist. The absence of a...

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