Year

1997

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Department of Philosophy

Abstract

The possibility of transplanting human body parts from one person to another, and the increasing and varied use for such parts in medical experimentation, means that human body parts can now reasonably be described as medical resources. Like many medical resources, body parts suitable for transplantation or experimentation are in short supply. Unlike other medical resources, however, such parts are significant for another reason: namely, because they had previously been functional parts of a person's body. Although the relevant policies require a person's consent before her body parts are used in either these ways, in practice such consent is not always sought, or may be overridden by what are believed to be more important considerations. One reason for this may be a lack of certainty about the nature of a person's claim to determine what happens to any of her body parts removed for therapeutic reasons or all of them after her death. This lack of certainty, I contend, is a result of a more fundamental uncertainty about whether a person has any interest in what happens to her body parts in either of these circumstances. The task of this thesis is to determine whether there is such an interest, its nature and significance, and what, if any, implications it has for the various medical uses of human body parts.

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