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5.3.04

Default Donation

Via this interesting paper, it comes to my attention that there are people pushing for organ donation in the US to become an opt-out, rather than opt-in, system. Based on the experience of numerous European countries who do it the other way, it looks like opt-in greatly increases the number of organ donors by influencing people who don't have a strong preference or just go with whatever sounds normal. On that basis I entirely support the idea of switching to opt-out for the US. Of course, that's easy for me to say given my metaphysical belief that a corpse is just a wad of meat -- once consciousness is gone for good, there's no person there anymore. So the default seems naturally to fall on the side of donation, since the only harm that donation could cause would be the violation of a well-formed preference on the part of the deceased. If I held a belief that stated that the corpse was still a person in some respect (such as the injunction against corpse desecration held by many societies which has caused so much consternation to archaeologists), then the situation would be different. In that case it would make sense to want the default to be to not donate, preserving people's posthumous dignity unless they made a conscious and well-formed decision to damn themselves by donating their organs.

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