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The Contender
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The sale of human organs should be legalized

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/28/2012 Category: Health
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 4,792 times Debate No: 26526
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
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There are large numbers of people who die every year because they are not able to find a suitable donor as the system of connecting patients and donors does not work properly. There are a lot of factors that should be considered while choosing the appropriate donor such as type of the blood. According to Knox (2008) there is a shortage of organs all over the world, especially in the USA, approximately 75,000 people were waiting for the kidney transplants in 2008. But only 18,000 got their organs in 2009. It does not mean that if others waited sustaining by dialysis would have got their kidneys too. About 4,000 of those Americans have died waiting by the end of 2009 (ibid). The great number of those patients will get out of that waiting list because of the development of the illness that makes their organisms not able to adapt to new organs. Thousands more people could be saved if more people who live in the US fulfilled organs donation cards and if medical staff searched for possible donors more often. Sally Satel, a psychiatrist and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute who received a kidney from a friend in 2006, states that as time passes the waiting list is getting longer and the time needed for transplantation is getting longer too; many people need an inducement to give their own organs for other people. Therefore, those people who want to save lives of other people should be legally awarded. Moreover, Matas (2004) claims that despite the laws of the majority of countries which forbid the sale of human organs, there are some "black markets" for sales. Those "black markets" have bad conditions and insanitary, so donors cannot be treated in a right way and the biggest part of the payment for those organs goes to the broker. That means that donors are cheated by those brokers and they give their organs for very little prices. People agree to give their organs to brokers because they have no choice, as the sale of human organs is not legalized in the majority of the countries. The legalization of the sale of human organs and creation regulated system can eliminate those unregulated "black markets" with their unfair brokers.


Since my opponent did not put any definitions in his constructive, my definitions will take precedence. Furthermore, I am using what is called a "flexible constructive" where my text will involve a combination of an advocacy and a rebuttal of my opponent's advocacy. This is fair in that the advantage given to me by an early rebuttal is balanced by my increased character count, which limits the length of my own arguments.


Sale: The exchange of a commodity for money -- Oxford Online Dictionary

Should: Obligated to act

Observation One:

Since the state is the acting body in the legalization of human organs, the resolution must be evaluated in terms of whether the government should legalize the sale of human organs.

Observation Two:

According to Professor Michael Zimmerman, an action is obligatory only if there is no more suitable action in achieving an end. For example, I, with my limited medical knowledge, am not obligated to perform open heart surgery on a person to save his life. Rather, I would be obligated to take him to the nearby hospital. In the same way, if an alternative to legalizing the sale of human organs is more beneficial, then the resolution is negated.

Contention One: Commoditizing Life

First, by definition, a sale involves the exchange of a commodity for money. Thus, sale of organs would stamp a monetary price-tag on the life these organs support.

Subpoint A: The Social Contract

According to Jacques Rosseau, the government's power of derived from the consent of its people. This axiom forms the social contract -- the relationship between any state and its people where the people uphold the laws of the government in return for the government's securing of the people's natural rights, one of which is the right to life. It goes to follow that any governmental policy must not forsake people's natural rights to life as a means to achieving any end.

Legalizing organ donations financially incentivizes one to give up their organs for money, yielding potential harms to the seller. Even if one might "own their body," it is the governments duty to prevent that person from inflicting harm on himself, in the same way that one committing suicide is illegal.

Now some might argue that it should be a person's own choice as to what happens with their body. Well, the same applies to prostitution. A person can still choose to sell their body for money in return for sexual favors, but it is the government's duty to not condone such behavior. In other words, a person can choose to break the law and act however they please, but it is the government's duty to protect that person before such a choice is made. Second, a dichotomy must be formed between personal permissibility and governmental permissibility. In this situation, it is the government's fundamental responsibility to not use people's lives as a mean to any end.

Subpoint B: Devaluation

Putting a price on life devalues it to the same level as other monetarily valued items. Consequentially, committing murder will be reduced to the same magnitude of crime as robbing a bank. Reports from the World Health Organization conclude that kidneys fetch $20K in India, $40K in China, and up to $160K in Israel. Common sense dictates that anyone both lacking morals and money would find killing a person for their organs quite the prospect.

My opponent cites Matas (2004), who claims that people still sell organs despite it being illegal. Turn this against him, for legalizing the sale would further incentivize the commission of coercive selling where businesses take advantage of people desperate to earn money in the same way that pimps abuse prostitutes. My opponent mentions that a "regulated system" will prevent such offenses, but consider the fact that we are in a dog-eat-dog capitalist economy. We have plenty of "regulated-systems" but we still have large business corporations using coercive methods on the public.

Contention Two: A Superior Alternative

First, I would like to point out that my opponent provides absolutely no evidence of how legalizing organ sale will solve these problems. There are many questions to be considered in this regard: Who is actually willing to sell their organs? How many people will sell their organs? What will the price of these organs be? And the most important one, will the benefit produced by sale of organs be significant enough as to justify such a drastic policy change?

Now to consider the superior alternative: Organs should be given away for free after a person dies. Europe has a system of implied consent where people consent to give their organs upon death unless stated otherwise. Consequentially, organ donor rates in these areas are significantly higher.

There are multiple warrants as to why this is superior:

1) People don't deserve financial rewards for giving their organs, just respect. Physicist Isaac Newton remarked that we only see far by standing on the shoulders of giants. The only reason we enjoy such a high living standard as we do today is because of gifts from the past. Professor Edward Page of Warwick University argues that agents who utilize good from previous generations bear the solemn responsibility passing on these gifts, one of which is the gift to life. Organs given for free after death fulfills this concept of moral reciprocity.

2) This alternative does not forsake a person's right to life. Since organs will be given after death, a person has already lost their life by the time the organ exchange will occur.

3) If no price is laid on organs, life will not be commoditized, and so many of its harms will be avoided. For example, corrupt businesses will have no financial incentive to take advantage of people's bleak financial situations by coercively buying and selling their organs.

4) Doing so would provide the same if not greater solvency than allowing for the sale of organs would provide, as my opponent advocates. Dead people, by nature, possess the utmost willingness to giving away their organs, compared with living people.

In closing, legalizing the sale of organs should not happen. In fact, we should prevent it from happening. Such legalization would violate the fundamental principles of the social contract and lead to the devaluation and commoditization of human life. Second, with the goal of saving lives in mind, alternatives allow for greater lives saved without violating the social contract or devaluing or commoditizing life in the process.

Thus I strongly urge you to negate this resolution and vote Con.

PS: by definition, sale of organs is not synonymous for giving organs away for free, for a sale involves a direct exchange of money for the commodity.
Debate Round No. 1


The legalization of the sale of human organs might increase the supply of transplantable organs and the quality of donated organs. James Stacey Taylor thinks that the reliance on donation has not got a success to produce enough organs to cover the demand for them. However, if people could get some money for their organs then those who would not donate them would sell them. It is not just a theory, economic basis claim that in order to increase the supply of merchandise the amount of money given for it should be increased. For example, the waiting lists for kidney transplantation were abolished when Iran legalized the sale of human organs from living donors. The same report suggests that patients who receive organs from a living donor have a better recovery than those who receive organs from a cadaveric donor because organs they receive are simply of better quality. In addition, if the sale of human organs would be legalized, then the number of available for transplantation organs would increase significantly, surgeons would have a bigger range of organs that can be transplanted. Consequently, there might be more organs from living donors rather than cadaveric. That means that it is better to transplant organs from living donors rather than from cadaveric.


pacifist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 2


Sanzhar forfeited this round.


pacifist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by RationalMadman 5 years ago
I don't think you realise what legalising selling organs would encourage the impoverished to do...
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