Ethics and Organ Transfer: A Merleau-Pontean Perspective

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Abstract

The article's aim is to explore human hand allograft recipients' postoperative experience of disownership and their gradual experience of their new hand as theirs, with the aid of the work of the French phenomenologist Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Many have used a Merleau-Pontinian perspective in the analysis of embodiment. Far fewer have used it in medico-ethical analysis. Drew Leder's phenomenologically based ethics of organ donation and organ sale is an exception to this tendency. The article's second aim is to examine Leder's phenomenologically based ethics of organ donation and organ sale. Though I find parts of Leder's approach promising, I also elaborate a line of reasoning that draws on Merleau-Ponty, that does allow us to argue for certain kinds of organ donation and against organ sale—and that avoids some of the problems with Leder's approach. This alternative route builds on the concept of the integrity of the body-subject.

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