The Journal of Ethics

, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp 87–102

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

  • David Archard

DOI: 10.1023/A:1015852012719

Cite this article as:
Archard, D. The Journal of Ethics (2002) 6: 87. doi:10.1023/A:1015852012719


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.

altruismblooddomino argumentEric Mackgiftimagined communitymarketpersonal attributesPeter SingerRichard Titmuss

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Archard
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Moral PhilosophyUniversity of St AndrewsSt. Andrews, FifeUK