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Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 39, Issue 1, pp 1–25 | Cite as

How (not) to think of the ‘dead-donor’ rule

  • Adam OmelianchukEmail author
Article
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Abstract

Although much has been written on the dead-donor rule (DDR) in the last twenty-five years, scant attention has been paid to how it should be formulated, what its rationale is, and why it was accepted. The DDR can be formulated in terms of either a Don’t Kill rule or a Death Requirement, the former being historically rooted in absolutist ethics and the latter in a prudential policy aimed at securing trust in the transplant enterprise. I contend that the moral core of the rule is the Don’t Kill rule, not the Death Requirement. This, I show, is how the DDR was understood by the transplanters of the 1960s, who sought to conform their practices to their ethics—unlike today’s critics of the DDR, who rethink their ethics in a question-begging fashion to accommodate their practices. A better discussion of the ethics of killing is needed to move the debate forward.

Keywords

Transplant ethics Dead donor rule Killing Organ donation 

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The University of South CarolinaColumbiaUSA

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