Back last August I posted an entry about Santino, a chimp living in a Swedish zoo who had developed a most interesting past-time: collecting rocks and stones to hurl at visitors to the zoo. The furtive manner in which Santino collected his projectiles may hint at, I suggested, a moral sense: a notion that his actions are somehow reprehensible.
Chimps, of course, are not the only animals to whom moral sense might be attributed. The latest issue of Scientific American contains a brief article elaborating on the so-called moral behaviour of canids (that’s dogs to you and I), which ties in with the newly released book Wild Justice by Mark Bekoff and Jessica Pierce (who incidentally author the article). Continue reading “A Dog’s (Moral) Life… and Legal Representation”
The edifice of perfection surrounding Tiger Woods gave way on Thanksgiving Day last week. Not only did Tiger inexplicably crash his car into a fire hydrant and tree outside his Florida home, but he did so after an alleged fight with his wife about his now confirmed philandering. The resulting media frenzy has been both intense and constant: causing Tiger to issue an initial plea for people to “respect his right to some simple, human measure of privacy.” Tiger’s plea raises many important and interesting philosophical questions–some of which are discussed in this NY Times “Room for Debate” commentary. Continue reading “Tiger Woods and the Right to Privacy, Again”
Following the arrest of Rabbi Rosenbaum, Brooklyn’s black-market organ broker, there’s been a fresh round of kidney-selling debate on the Internet and in the news. (Kidneys even made the fake news, in a John Hodgman segment on the Daily Show. People care about kidneys!)
At bottom, the case for a market in kidneys is simple: it’s my kidney. Why shouldn’t I be permitted to sell it?
I’ve been interested to note a common theme among those who worry about kidney markets. Says Jon Stewart in the Daily Show clip, “doesn’t that just turn poor people into living organ farms for the rich?” Says publius at Obsidian Wings, “I’m just not sure I want market logic– which is necessarily coercive on some more than others– to intrude into the realm of body parts, or selling children.” Says Kevin Drum at Mother Jones, “Would this would be a global market? My discomfort with the idea is doubled or tripled at the idea of luring the poor in Bangladesh or Liberia into donating kidneys.”
The concern with exposing the poor to the depredations of a kidney market interests me in part because it is reminiscent of an argument commonly made by feminists opposed to prostitution: the labor market for sex work is more coercive to the poor than it is toward the rich, which makes problematic the apparent consent of a prostitute exchanging sex for money. (Catharine MacKinnon makes a version of this argument in “Prostitution and Civil Rights.”)
I take it that worries about markets in kidneys and sex are instances of a general unwillingness to expose bodily integrity to market forces. I wonder, though, if it’s so easy to draw a principled distinction between bodily integrity and other kinds of personal integrity. Is there a good reason to be much more worried about the cost to well-being of losing a kidney than about the cost of years spent in mind-numbingly repetitive assembly-line work?
By George Rainbolt, Georgia State University