April 22, 2012
A recent proposal to eliminate the ban of selling kidneys so that college students can pay for college has sparked much debate on the ethics of human rights and morality. The question is whether or not selling body parts for money is moral. I will be discussing how Utilitarianism, Kant’s Theory, and Negative Natural Rights theory determine morality and whether each theory deems the proposal as a moral act or not.
The first theory we can use in deciding if selling kidneys for tuition is ethical is Utilitarianism. Utilitarianism determines morality by saying an act is moral if it creates the greatest overall utility. This means ...view middle of the document...
Since humans can live with just one kidney for just as long as a person with two, I believe the positive consequences outweigh the negative consequences making this a moral act under utilitarianism.
Utilitarianism also has to look at other courses of action. The other course of action is if students do not sell their kidney. The positive consequences are that students have two kidneys instead of one. The negative consequences are that students will not be able to afford the cost of college and people who are in need of a kidney do not receive them and die. A utilitarian would say the first course of action of selling a kidney is better than not selling a kidney because it has the greatest overall utility.
The second theory we can use in deciding if selling kidneys for tuition is ethical is Kant’s theory. Kant claims that an act has moral worth if it is done for the sake of duty. Acting for the sake of duty means that we should perform an act because it is the right thing to do. Kant’s theory rejects the idea of self-interest, emotion, and utility because they lead to inconsistent ways of determining the morality of an act, which affects our autonomy. Kant’s theory does not consider consequences when performing a moral act and an act is only moral if it provides unconditional good will. Selling a kidney to pay for college takes in self-interest. The student is selling a part of its body because the student wants to get a higher education. It also takes in utility because the student is allowed to go to college and people who are in need of a kidney get them. Kant would claim that this act is immoral since self interest and utility are being used which affect our autonomy.
The next step in Kant’s theory when determining morality of an act is if it can be willed a universal law. Are we willing to accept the rule that underlies our act as a moral rule which could apply as a universal law? The test is whether people could consistently will that everyone adopt this rule as a guide to their actions. If we do accept it as a universal rule then the act is moral and if we do not accept the rule as universal it is immoral. In this situation, the test is whether we can accept the fact that everyone has to sell their kidney to go to school. Some people might only have one functioning kidney and if they had to sell their kidney in order to go to school they could die. This means that not everyone can consistently adopt this rule as a guide to their actions making selling a kidney in order to go to school an immoral act under Kant’s theory.
The final condition of Kant’s theory when determining the morality of an act is to act in such a way that you always treat humanity, either yourself of any other person, never as a means, but always as an end. Dr. Calum MacKellaris is quoted on saying “to place a financial value on human beings or parts of human beings undermines the inherent dignity of the human person and...