Resolve this! [Organ harvesting condemned prisoners]

Riddle me this: Any one of us would kill another innocent man to save our lives. But none of us will go to China for a Falun Gong to be murdered for his organs, when this would save our lives indeed.

Contradiction, no?

I spy at least one false premise.

No, just nonsense.

Uh I try to parse that but that no worky. Are practicers of Falun Gong being harvested for their organ?:confused:

No I wouldn’t murder an innocent to save my life. Nor are my organs in need of replacement.

They are indeed. As is my wont, earlier today I was browsing wikipedia, the free encyclopedia that anyone can edit - and stumbled upon http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Reports_of_organ_harvesting_from_Falun_Gong_practitioners_in_China

This activated my brain, and in no time at all I had something to think about.

Couldn’t you have boiled it down to something like, “Under what circumstances, disregarding self-defense, being a soldier in battle, or Eva Marie Saint hanging off you while you’re holding onto a bush growing out of Abe Lincoln’s nostril, would you kill, or allow to die, another person to save your own life?”

Well, perhaps that is not all that much boiled down.

I think organ donation is a special case for a lot of people for some reason.

Would you mind just plainly explaining what you’re talking about?

Is the debate “the merits of murdering people for spare parts”? Because I think we can all agree that’s wrong.

Is the debate “why don’t we in the west stop this horrid practice”?

I will restate the riddle:

How can it be wrong to have someone murdered so that you might live?

It cannot.

So what is wrong with stealing prisoner’s organs?

It’s not wrong to murder someone for your own gain?

How can it not be wrong? Murder is murder regardless of how it helps you.

It is fine to kill someone in self defence, no? Same thing.

Yes, it can.

To murder a person is to take their life without their consent. This is considered wrong in virtually every human society which has ever existed. All major religions, all legal systems, and all brands of ethics and philosophies outlaw murder.

Your life is not more valuable than the life of another human being.

However, accepting organs harvested from a condemned prisoner is not exactly the same thing.

No, the prisoner in question did not consent to giving up their organs. However, if they have been found guilty of a capital crime and sentenced to death, their life is now moot. From a purely pragmatic standpoint, it would be a shame to let perfectly good organs go to waste when there are others who would benefit from them.

I would, however, decline to take part in such a system. China has a notoriously corrupt legal system, the death penalty is imposed for crimes I consider far too minor, and the potential for the abuse of innocents is far too great. I would do my best to dissuade others from using such a system as well as improve the current system of organ donation so that more were available to those in need.

But then, I am a soft-hearted slob.

Yes it can, because it is. For a cite see the Hippocratic oath. Unless plumbers do organ transplants now. Also see common human decency on the off chance there is a plumber doing organ transplants.

Well, no. Killing someone in self defense is not murder.

No, it’s not.

If a person attacked me with an ax, and I pulled out a gun and shot them between the eyes, that would be considered self-defense. It works because my attacker chose to pick up an ax and come after me. My attacker was the cause of my life being in danger, and killing them removed the danger.

Having someone killed to harvest their organs for transplant is murder, because the person you would like to have killed is not the cause of your life being in danger. The illness which damaged your organ is.

It would be murder just as much as lining up 10,000 people and one by one, putting a gun to each person’s head, demanding the cure for cancer, and when they couldn’t give one, shooting them. Yes, they failed to save your life. But no, they were not the cause of your life being in danger.

According to the cite (which was Wikipedia so take that in account) a majority of prisoners were jailed for their religious beliefs. Falun Gong is a Chinese religion.

At the risk of Godwinising what did we call it when Germany rounded up people and murdered them for their religious beliefs?

Welcome to the boards. :slight_smile:

Having said that I’m afraid I have to question your statement in many ways:

  • some of us wouldn’t kill anyone, even to save our lives
  • some of us wouldn’t kill an innocent man, even to save our lives
  • presumably you mean a Falun Gong member is going to be murdered, as opposed to executed by law
  • presumably you disagree with the law involved
  • presumably you disagree with organ transplants from executed prisoners
  • some people would go anywhere for an organ transplant
  • some people would kill for an organ transplant
  • some people would kill just to make money from an organ transplant

Also your convoluted example doesn’t say what you think of capital punishment, organ transplants or Falun Gong.

I’m not sure about your scenario and reasoning here.

First, it isn’t at all clear that killing an innocent is ever justified in the sense you’re implying. If we dopers are going to accept the proposition at all, most likely it is going to be on the basis of some kind of limited invocation of the principle of necessity and coercion, whereby our will is being overborne and no other choice is possible. That kind of scenario has a particular quality to it which is characterised by immediacy and self-defence stemming from outside constraints.

Even then, I doubt that many people would consider the murder of an innocent to be morally neutral or acceptable. Depending on the scenario and the kind of coercion, we may not accept there is any lessening in our direct moral responsibility. Some may take an even more parsimonious stance too.

So, admitting the first proposition isn’t an all-or-nothing affair, and it doesn’t somehow collapse the general injunction against taking lives. The first coercion scenario doesn’t suddenly force us to accept that a crude solipsist calculus is justified writ large because of our peremptory concern with self-preservation.

Now, as for the second bit, I get the feeling you are trying to argue that the organ harvest situation invokes a strong counter-intuition, which you are trying to contrast with our slipperiness about our own lives. But these are different principles IMO.

The organ scenario invokes a different idea about the morality of accepting tainted products or participating in wrongful action and persecution. It’s more like the argument against consumption of child pornography than that of direct coercion. With child pornography, we hold a strong injunction against not just the actual producers, but the consumers of the wrongdoing, which exists totally separate from our sexual morality, because we accept that consumers of such material are participating in predation against children - which we regard as going against a supreme moral imperative. So, in both cases, despite the harm already being done, we don’t licence consumption of the porn, or acceptance of the organs, because the injunction is based on participatory logic.