, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 87-102

Selling Yourself: Titmuss's Argument Against a Market in Blood

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Abstract

This article defends Richard Titmuss's argument, and PeterSinger's sympathetic support for it, against orthodoxphilosophical criticism. The article specifies thesense in which a market in blood is ``dehumanising'' ashaving to do with a loss of ``imagined community'' orsocial ``integration'', and not with a loss of valued or``deeper'' liberty. It separates two ``domino arguments''– the ``contamination of meaning'' argument and the``erosion of motivation'' argument ‐ which support, indifferent but interrelated ways, the claim that amarket in blood is ``imperialistic.'' Concentrating onthe first domino argument the article considers theview that monetary and non-monetary meanings of thesame good can co-exist given the robustness of certainkinds of relationship and joint undertakings withinwhich gifts can figure. It argues that societalrelationships are vulnerable or permeable to theeffects of the market in a way that those constitutiveof the personal sphere are not.General, more broadly political questions remainunanswered but the core of Titmuss's original andchallenging argument remains and can be presented ina defensible form.