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Towards An Ethics of Bodily Giving and Sharing in Medicine


Bodily giving

Medical therapy, research and technology make it possible for us to give parts of our bodies to others in new ways, and this during our own life-time. This is the case in organ, tissue, egg, sperm, and blood donation. A bodily giving can also be said to take place in surrogate motherhood in the sense that a woman gives of her own body as a gestational site for an embryo to develop, and when participants in clinical research offers their bodies as sites for testing new therapies and drugs. Much literature has discussed ethical aspects of selling and buying of body-parts and bodily services. Less attention has been given to ethical aspects of what is sometimes labelled financially non-rewarded forms of bodily giving.  This includes donation, surrogacy, or clinical research where those who give of their bodies do not receive any money at all, or are only reimbursed for direct cost incurred in the act of giving, or are financially compensated for the pain and inconvenience involved.

The research program “Towards an Ethics of Bodily Giving and Sharing in Medicine” systematically brings together different forms of financially non-rewarded bodily giving in medicine, with the overarching aim to elaborate an ethics of such giving in social relations.

This allows an examination of tensions and paradoxes in ethical reasoning on bodily giving that become apparent first when such reasoning on live donation, surrogacy and clinical research are contrasted with each other. It also enables us to discuss questions such as: Are there bodily gifts that ought to be made, and others that are ought not to be made? Which bodily gifts, if any, ought not to be received? And when should professionals encourage bodily giving and when should they discourage it, and on what grounds should society step in to support, regulate or block exchanges of bodily gifts?

The program is financed by the Swedish Collegium for Advanced Studies, Uppsala, Riksbankens Jubileumsfond, and Linköping University.

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Last updated: Fri Feb 20 15:31:24 CET 2015