The Misuse of Kant in the Debate About a Market for Human Body Parts
Journal of Applied Philosophy 1999; 16(1): 59-67
Passages from the writings of Immanuel Kant concerning how a person should treat her body are often cited in the present-day debate about a market for human body parts. In this paper, I demonstrate that this has been a misuse of Kant because unlike those who cite him, Kant was not primarily concerned with prohibiting the sale of body parts. In the first section, I argue that once these particular passages are understood against the background of Kant's moral philosophy, they indicate he had much broader concerns relating to the correct moral relationship a rational person should have with her body. In the second section, I examine Stephen Munzer's unusually detailed analysis of these passages, but conclude that like those who have provided less detailed analyses, he also fails fully to understand the rationale for Kant's various prescriptions and prohibitions concerning the treatment of human body parts, and in doing so misrepresents Kant's position.
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