10. 3 Moral Limits of Markets 2017-2018
Nobel prize-winning economist Gary Becker suggested we should legalize trade in human kidneys. The idea is simple: demand is high, supply is low, and people are already allowed to give their kidneys to others for free (donating to a sick family member). Not all agree. Trade in human organs is a morally challenging topic, and different countries adhere to different rules about the issue. Consider the piece published on the Economist on 12 May 2018 titled: ‘Bans on paying for human blood distort a vital global market’, describing how the huge global market for life-saving blood plasma is reliant on America.
In this assignment you are asked to reflect on this article and address the question: to what extent is a market for human organs / blood morally legitimate? You are expected to write a critical literature review of 3000 words on the subject, in which you use (minimally twelve) academic sources related to the topic. In your essay, you are expected to demonstrate your ability to extract the relevant details from the literature and the materials discussed during the lectures, and to write a coherent paper based on this information, which should be split into three parts: (1) theoretical background (2) analysis and (3) conclusion and questions for further research.
Please take the role of a policy advisor and provide the policy makers with your report. Students should (1) explain why their research question is relevant; (2) address and describe a relevant recent policy development related to the topics mentioned above; (3) deliberate whether the policy should be adopted by the government; (4) answer their research question and formulate, based on their conclusions, a new, relevant research question for future research. More detailed information is given below. Please follow these steps meticulously.
In the introduction you should start with a recent event. You briefly describe the event, and explain what the problem is, for whom it is a problem, and how big the problem is. Next you will describe the proposal or proposals (max. two) that could solve the problem. This should lead to your research question. This implies that you have to make the abovementioned question, to what extent a market for human organs / blood is morally legitimate, more specific: what sub-questions will you need to answer? Subsequently you will describe how you have structured your literature research.
2. Theoretical background
For this part you have to address a couple of the following issues and questions. Please note that you are expected to write an essay. Do not just answer the questions. Please pick the relevant topics – depending on the subject you have chosen:
The main principles of free market, include supply and demand, elasticity, international trade. How are those related to the problem at hand?
International trade means trade between people with different sets of moral values.
When human organs can be traded, inequality rises.
Moral taboos are inefficient.
Markets influence morals.
Markets come with different responsibilities on all levels.
Which reasons why markets in donating human organs / blood are morally legitimate have been suggested? Limit the suggestions to a maximum of two.
Which arguments support this idea/these ideas?
Which arguments refute this idea/these ideas?
4. Conclusion and questions for further research
What is your conclusion based on your research (analysis)? Of course, it will not be possible to come up with a definite answer yet, therefore argue which issue should be resolved, so that a more definite answer to your research question is possible, i.e. argue why we will be able to come with a more definite answer to your research question once this issue will have been solved. Also argue why it is feasible to do this kind of research.
Language: English (international groups)/ Dutch (Dutch groups)
Font: Time New Roman 11
Line Spacing: 1.5
Deadlines: Deadlines: see 10.4 – 10.6.
Background information on topics (here the literature you post on Canvas) :
Give a Kidney, Get a Check (2015) The Atlantic
The market for human organs is destroying lives (2016) The Washington Post.
Should We Legalize the Market for Human Organs? (2008) NPR Background literature on topics:
Becker, G. S., & Elias, J. J. (2014). Cash for kidneys: the case for a market for organs. The Wall Street Journal, 18.
Roth, A. E., Sönmez, T., & Ünver, M. U. (2007). Efficient kidney exchange: Coincidence of wants in markets with compatibility-based preferences. American Economic Review, 97(3), 828-851.
Satz, Debra (2008). The moral limits of markets: The case of human kidneys. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 108, 269-288.
Slonim, R., Wang, C., & Garbarino, E. (2014). The market for blood. Journal of Economic Perspectives, 28(2), 177-196