Consent and Uncertainty about the Wishes of the Dead

T. M. Wilkinson

in Ethics and the Acquisition of Organs

Published in print November 2011 | ISBN: 9780199607860
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731747 | DOI:

Series: Issues in Biomedical Ethics

Consent and Uncertainty about the Wishes of the Dead

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It is often not known what people want to happen to their bodies after they die. The chapter defends a policy under which organs may be taken where there is no good reason to think the deceased would have objected and where the family do not object. The first part of the chapter is mainly about when and why organs may be taken from people who did not consent. In the case of the dead, their rights do not require consent but instead only doing what is likely to be in their interests. The second part connects the philosophical argument to the debates about presumed consent and opt out systems for organ retrieval. The chapter explains how its recommended policy differs little from widespread practices, including those in many ‘opt in’ countries. It assesses the effects on the organ supply of opt out defaults. It assesses the idea that the choice whether to donate can be framed so as to encourage donation.

Keywords: Opt in; opt out; presumed consent; organ supply; framing; defaults

Chapter.  12144 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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