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I have been thinking about the idea of choosing the "organ donor" option for a driver's license. For all questions, I am ignoring the fact that it costs $1 in my state to become one (because it raises a separate issue about self-sacrifice that I'm not undecided on).

If I am on the verge of death, could it be in the self-interest of a surgeon to not go out on a limb trying to save me? Is there a potential for a hospital or one of its affiliates to gain a profit something if I die?

Do you think it's possible that a doctor or health care professional might not feel like going the extra mile to save you if they think your death could save a child? (My friend said his economics professor brought that one up.)

Do you think Ayn Rand would have chose the "organ donor" option on her license? Do you think there's a higher probability that being an organ donor will be in my self-interest or against my self-interest (if I choose the organ donor option on my license)?

If you are/were a parent, do/would you have any preference regarding your child choosing the organ donor option?

Do you think choosing the organ donor option on a driver's license has any bearing on morality?

Thanks.

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In itself, the choice to donate organs has no bearing on morality because morality only applies in the context of life, but the possibily that you could be allowed to die as a consequence complicates things. It's a risk that you would have to balance against how much you value adding to the transplant supply, and the answer may not be the same for everyone. If you evaluate that risk honestly you can't miss, since the primary responsibility for your wrongful death in the worst case scenario would be with the doctor. I for one don't recall reading anything about anyone getting caught for this kind of crime, but the hypothetical doesn't seem that far fetched. I'm marked down to donate for now but it's something I might reevaluate before I renew my licence.

If you want your organs to go to family members before reaching the general list, I think there is a legal procedure that will allow you to designate, but that's only based on seeing the movie "Seven Pounds".

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Well, first of all, there is no moral obligation to become an organ donor. Just want that said first and foremost.

When someone starts talking about doctors and emergency personnel being more comfortable about letting you die if they see the organ donor mark, that's always just struck me as paranoia, pure and simple. I really don't think the average doctor or EMT would take it into consideration. If anything, I'd guess that they'd regard the person they're trying to save as more worthy of saving if they're an organ donor (which is a wildly inappropriate perspective, but I'd guess that it's prevalent nonetheless).

Personally, I feel that it's very much in my self-interest to be an organ donor. I may very well benefit from the organ donation system during my lifetime, either by directly benefiting or by someone I value being saved by the system. Also, I would much rather my organs go to saving someone else than simply sitting to rot in my body; they're certainly no good to me at that point. Because I find the "doctor's won't try as hard to save you" perspective thoroughly unpersuasive, I don't see any downside to being one.

However, if you are someone who believes that being an organ donor would disadvantage you in a life-threatening situation (and that this outweighs the value you see in your organs possibly saving a stranger's life), it would certainly be immoral for you to disregard your own judgment and become an organ donor out of a desire to, say, look good to other people, or whatever. In short, it's a personal judgment based on your values, although you should certainly strive to make your values as rationally self-interested as possible.

Full disclosure, I discovered that I am not an organ donor like a year ago, and thinking back I can't remember being asked the question when I got my license. I do plan to become one the next time I renew my license, however.

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Perhaps an MD can address the question directly with details, but being an organ donor carries no possible risk of causing or contributing to death. It is inconceivable that a doctor would say "Well, this guy is probably toast, and he's an organ donor, so if I just kind of withhold treatment, then we can make some money selling his giblets".

You have no remaining interests when you are dead, which is a precondition for taking your organs (in the US). So the question is basically founded on a false presupposition. I propose that you should be an organ donor, on the grounds that doing so contributes to a certain improvement in society, and that you might actually benefit from that improvement in society before you die. The improvement in society is that more people allow their otherwise useless organs to be put to use, saving the life of another person. Ideally, everybody would contribute their quinto quarto upon death. It is entirely possible that you could benefit from living in such a society, if you happened to need a new heart, liver, lung, kidney or face (fer example).

If you have a rational basis for not giving up the goodies upon death, then (1) I'd like to hear about it (because I can't imagine what it would be) and (2) if you are right in your reasoning, of course you shouldn't sign up. Otherwise, I can't imagine how evading the potential benefits (though admittedly they are remote) would be a rational choice. Your best shot is fear of being prematurely offed; my objection to that is that it's based just on imagination and a very dark view of medical ethics. Though maybe it helps to know some doctors.

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I agree with David.

However, I disagree with DanLane, in one thing: making a choice about becoming a donor has a bearing on morality. It is a free act done while you are still alive, and with a purpose in mind, so it can be evaluated morally.

When you love your life you naturally tend to do good to others for the mere pleasure of doing it.

A happy rational man tends to have, on principle, a positive view of mankind and the world.

He gets dissapointed and outraged when he sees vice in his fellowmen, precisely because he has high expectations of men.

So, whenever an act of generosity does not entail the sacrifice of a greater value, the rational happy man will tend to be kind with people, animals, and future generations.

Again, is not because of the sake of obeying a norm or altruism, but just for the intense fun of loving life.,

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A good reason to refuse to be an organ donor would be the possibility of forcing the hand of the government to afford donors the freedom to choose a recipient other than the bureaucracy which currently assumes ownership of all donated organs.

But I don't see that happening these days (since not enough people would take part in such a boycott), so the answer is no, there is no reason not to be an organ donor.

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Only advantages here, with no downside. This is one of those instances that what is in your self-interest is also in the interest of nameless other people.

Call it the trader principle, applied to your kidneys, heart, retinas, etcdry.gif

Look at it this way, if you'd have been the benfactee of an organ transplant already, would you be more or less willing to donate your organs at your demise? So why wait til then.

Hotua makes the ultimate point, that your love of your own life, gives you appreciation of all life.

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Only advantages here, with no downside. This is one of those instances that what is in your self-interest is also in the interest of nameless other people.

Call it the trader principle, applied to your kidneys, heart, retinas, etcdry.gif

Look at it this way, if you'd have been the benfactee of an organ transplant already, would you be more or less willing to donate your organs at your demise? So why wait til then.

Hotua makes the ultimate point, that your love of your own life, gives you appreciation of all life.

Is there some assumption that you have control over what nameless other person benefits from your organ? What if you cannot be assured that your organ will not be used to extend the life of an evil person? (Say someone who goes on to murder)

Still no downside?

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Is there some assumption that you have control over what nameless other person benefits from your organ? What if you cannot be assured that your organ will not be used to extend the life of an evil person? (Say someone who goes on to murder)

Still no downside?

I'm puzzled by this, freestyle. You are too experienced an O'ist I think to not see the flaws here.

This argument is 'out-come' based, on the premise that one is all-seeing, and all-knowing, and that one is responsible for other people's causality and morality.

A consequentialist argument perhaps? Maybe, utilitarian also.

What of a heart surgeon who saves his patient's life - who then goes on to commit murder?

Of a missile systems designer whose innovations get stolen by the enemy, resulting in a rocket attack against his own country?

You get what I mean.

The opposite is just as credible: that my heart, liver, or whatever, could save the life of a worthwhile, moral individual.

Besides, one can can't go through life looking at the bleak side of things, assuming evil everywhere, can one? The benefit of the doubt, and benevolence are minor virtues. Still no downside.

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This argument is 'out-come' based, on the premise that one is all-seeing, and all-knowing, and that one is responsible for other people's causality and morality.

A consequentialist argument perhaps? Maybe, utilitarian also.

What of a heart surgeon who saves his patient's life - who then goes on to commit murder?

Of a missile systems designer whose innovations get stolen by the enemy, resulting in a rocket attack against his own country?

You get what I mean.

The opposite is just as credible: that my heart, liver, or whatever, could save the life of a worthwhile, moral individual.

Besides, one can can't go through life looking at the bleak side of things, assuming evil everywhere, can one? The benefit of the doubt, and benevolence are minor virtues. Still no downside.

I was not intending to suggest making your decision based on arbitrary assumptions.

My point (as an objective 'devil's advocate' question) is to question whether or not it is true that there is no downside. Whether or not you donate your organs is, currently, a choice you are able to make. Part of that choice does not include who gets it. Shouldn't it?

Does the calculation on whether one should donate "to all" change if the issue is not an organ and it is their wealth? Assuming it does, what is the objective basis for that change?

My thinking is that one's choice ultimately comes down to an expression of their value of the society they're living in.

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I was not intending to suggest making your decision based on arbitrary assumptions.

My point (as an objective 'devil's advocate' question) is to question whether or not it is true that there is no downside. Whether or not you donate your organs is, currently, a choice you are able to make. Part of that choice does not include who gets it. Shouldn't it?

Does the calculation on whether one should donate "to all" change if the issue is not an organ and it is their wealth? Assuming it does, what is the objective basis for that change?

My thinking is that one's choice ultimately comes down to an expression of their value of the society they're living in.

(I would be interested in an expansion of your last para.)

Otherwise, yes - it would be far preferable for one to know and value the recipient of one's organ.

You appear to be extolling a private transaction over an anonymous, arbitrary, one.

Preferable, but unwieldy.

I think that even in a deregulated and free society, the system of centralized organ banks would work most effectively.

They'd be privately owned naturally.

Analogous to real banks, they could operate under a system of credit and debit. To get a bit fanciful, by you depositing or bequeathing your organs to an organ bank, would allow for your grand-kid, say, to make a 'withdrawal' of someone else's organ in the future - if needed.

But I'm digressing; although I think I understand your stated concerns, I am still convinced that one is giving value for value.

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What if you cannot be assured that your organ will not be used to extend the life of an evil person? (Say someone who goes on to murder)

Still no downside?

I don't think you can say there's a downside to the decision just because there's a (small) chance your organ would go to someone who doesn't deserve to live. When making the decision, all you can guess at is the expected value of the person receiving the organ. It's improper to say that a decision had a downside simply because it turned out well looking backwards, because that standard is not usable in decision-making. Even if I win the lottery, for example, buying the ticket was a bad decision with the information I had at the time.

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An interesting debate has been going on in the UK in regard to organ harvesting and some of the ethical implications. As we move to a more European style healthcare model this may become relevent.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/columnists/article-508042/Organ-donation-noble-act--denied-right-choose.html

edited to note: while the article is from 2 years ago this has been an ongoing issue for several years.

Edited by SapereAude
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An interesting debate has been going on in the UK in regard to organ harvesting and some of the ethical implications. As we move to a more European style healthcare model this may become relevent.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/columnists/article-508042/Organ-donation-noble-act--denied-right-choose.html

edited to note: while the article is from 2 years ago this has been an ongoing issue for several years.

Wow. Switching the default option from "No" to "Yes" on the forms amounts to coercion? I definitely don't agree with that.

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An interesting debate has been going on in the UK in regard to organ harvesting and some of the ethical implications. As we move to a more European style healthcare model this may become relevent.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/columnists/article-508042/Organ-donation-noble-act--denied-right-choose.html

edited to note: while the article is from 2 years ago this has been an ongoing issue for several years.

It would seem the ideal solution would be to require that choice be made; hence, you have to actually make the choice yes or no to get the license.

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Perhaps an MD can address the question directly with details, but being an organ donor carries no possible risk of causing or contributing to death. It is inconceivable that a doctor would say "Well, this guy is probably toast, and he's an organ donor, so if I just kind of withhold treatment, then we can make some money selling his giblets".

Additionally, if you are "toast" but still "alive" and no treatment is possible, they will keep you alive for awhile so they can to either determine your organ donor status or preserve the organs until they can be harvested. I've never heard of a case where someone who was being kept alive for organ donation actually made some miraculous recovery, but I supposed it is possible. But yea, I agree they would not withhold treatment from someone they believed they could save just so they could harvest the organs.

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