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    (Original post by Libertin du Nord)
    No it isn't, not at any cost. Morality is concerned not with what is good (ie, saving lives) but with what is right - a system of rules and justice.
    Can I just ask - What "rule" is this enforcing? If the simple signing of a form or checking of a box alters the ownership of organs after death, it's hardly an ultra-authoritarian measure, unless I'm missing something.
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    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    I think you're going way off the point as the exact legal ownership of the body isn't really the issue; it's the taking of organs without consent.
    But "without consent" implies there's a rightful owner who can give consent - and thus, the issue of who ought to receive a corpse is central.

    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    In British common law (at least, perhaps even written) the rights over the deceased belong to the next of kin, which is why they could up until recently veto an organ donation and why they decide what to do with the body.
    I appreciate that that's the tradition. But it doesn't necessarily imply that it's the justified thing.

    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    But, if we are going to go off-topic, answer me this. According to your view of ownership why should a person own their body when they are alive?
    By dint of being alive, they have either implicitly (in minority, for example, where they retain the potential to gain) or explicitly (in majority) the capacity to reason. This is the ultimate virtue, which separates mankind from other animals and is therefore the premise upon which I try to found all my arguments, so as to be consistent.

    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    Surely, at birth the body is ownerless as it cannot move itself or work itself. Why not allow people to pick up babies and keep them as their own property like they would a baby cow or bird? You, presumably, have to acknowledge that your view of ownership is incorrect or at least incomplete.
    I accept neither. The operative word in your question is "as" - parents keep children "as" they might keep a baby cow; but the analogy is incomplete. Because my ownership of a cow allows me, if I want, to kill it for meat at any stage. I don't have that same ownership over my child because my child owns themselves - they have the capacity to develop reason - and, thus, rather than 'ownership,' a parent has 'guardianship' over a child until either the age of majority (18 in Britain) or another qualitative test for majority (eg. Murray Rothbard, a libertarian philosopher, thinks that any specific age limit is meaningless - you can't reasonably one day be too yonug to be prosecuted as an adult, and the next old enough - because there isn't a direct change at any particular age - it's different for all people. So he proposes - and it isn't necessarily something I endorse, but as an alternative to a strict age limit it's possible - a qualitative test; ie. as soon as the child wants to leave home, they can do.)

    Crucially, ownership over an animal is absolute - you have the power of life and death. To assert your 'ownership' over a living person, then, is a form of enslavement, which is necessarily wrong; and thus violent abuse, paedophilia or murder against a child is justly illegal - because they own themselves, and their parents (who might perpetrate some of these acts - eg. child abuse) do not.

    Might I ask for what reason you think dead bodies ought to have rights? You said:

    "What, you think a person has no rights after they die?

    Can I go to a graveyard and steal a body for my own purposes? For fun? For necrophilia perhaps?"

    And do you accept my point about necrophilia - that so long as it is with a body which is unowned, then it is acceptable.
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    (Original post by cottonmouth)
    Then explain why presumed consent isn't enough. And don't you believe that 2/3 of people would consent in similar circumstances in this case? Given that you believe the problem would be alleviated a lot with an easier way of signing up to donation(meaning you think laziness is a large factor regarding the staus quo).

    I can't see why presumes consent isn't good enough, i just can't. Especially in a case where that presumption can be rebutted easily if there is enough objection. Then the question becomes about apathy. Well, in the same way you don't have much sympathy with dying people who have to deal with the consequences of you not believeing presumed consent is good enough, i don't have much sympathy for lazy, apathetic people!
    I honestly don't believe that if it was incredibly easy to become an organ donor that the majority would sign up. I think most people will say it's a good thing and would tell a pollster that they would, but then wouldn't. Making it easier would certainly increase the numbers but not get a majority of people to sign up.

    This is why I feel that presumed consent is not enough in this case. As I said before, if a majority of the country could be shown to consent then you could presume consent. But my opinion is that the majority would not give consent (or not enought of a majority) and therefore to presume consent is to make an incorrect assumption.

    To thermoregulatio:

    Your explanation of why a child owns itself does agree that your first explanation of ownership was incomplete. According to your first post ownership was only by virtue of toiling in the object, but you now add that a human owns itself by virtue of being human.

    In my mind a human body has rights by virtue of being a human body. A human is not an animal and (for societal reasons) the human body is not an animal body. To me, the body remains the possession of the deceased (to some extent anyway) even after death. So your question about necrophilia with an unowned body is not possible; the body is never unowned.
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    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    I honestly don't believe that if it was incredibly easy to become an organ donor that the majority would sign up. I think most people will say it's a good thing and would tell a pollster that they would, but then wouldn't. Making it easier would certainly increase the numbers but not get a majority of people to sign up.

    This is why I feel that presumed consent is not enough in this case. As I said before, if a majority of the country could be shown to consent then you could presume consent. But my opinion is that the majority would not give consent (or not enought of a majority) and therefore to presume consent is to make an incorrect assumption.

    To thermoregulatio:

    Your explanation of why a child owns itself does agree that your first explanation of ownership was incomplete. According to your first post ownership was only by virtue of toiling in the object, but you now add that a human owns itself by virtue of being human.

    In my mind a human body has rights by virtue of being a human body. A human is not an animal and (for societal reasons) the human body is not an animal body. To me, the body remains the possession of the deceased (to some extent anyway) even after death. So your question about necrophilia with an unowned body is not possible; the body is never unowned.
    Then drop your own assertions that the problems would be alleviated by making donation easier! If now you don't believe it would make a great deal of difference, then there still needs to be a solution to donation crisis.

    And to be frank, in reality, a corpse doesn't have any rights, even if in your own opinion you think it does. Plus, humans are animals, technically. But i don't wanna be pedantic! A dead thing cannot possess anything, either.
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    (Original post by cottonmouth)
    Then drop your own assertions that the problems would be alleviated by making donation easier! If now you don't believe it would make a great deal of difference, then there still needs to be a solution to donation crisis.

    And to be frank, in reality, a corpse doesn't have any rights, even if in your own opinion you think it does. Plus, humans are animals, technically. But i don't wanna be pedantic! A dead thing cannot possess anything, either.
    EDIT: Sorry my last post was written mistakenly and should be ignored.

    My assertion is that making donation easier would bring the numbers up to a suitable level. We don't need the entire country to be organ donors to have enough and we can get the extra by making it easier for people to become organ donors. Since I believe that most people in the country would not give consent it is therefore the case that presuming consent would be incorrect in most cases and should not, therefore, be done. If the majority would give consent then it's different.

    As to rights of the deceased I think most people would like their body to be treated with respect which implies some de facto rights to the deceased even if they do not exist in actual law. Furthermore, it has been noted that under British law the rights to the decased go to the next of kin or another appointed individual. As such, it doesn't really matter whether the deceased has rights or not, what is clear is that the body is not ownerless for the first person who comes along to take. And, what's more, I would suggest that the vast majority of the population would agree that a person cannot walk through a hospital ward and start taking ownership of the bodies as the people die.
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    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    To thermoregulatio:

    Your explanation of why a child owns itself does agree that your first explanation of ownership was incomplete. According to your first post ownership was only by virtue of toiling in the object, but you now add that a human owns itself by virtue of being human.
    I'd prefer to express that as - a human owns itself by virtue of its capacity to reason, rather than the quasi-tautological "by virtue of being human." Application of labour, as you correctly extract from my statement, is the condition by which one comes to acquire property in unowned resources; but the implicit assumption is of an owner, which, I concede, is a prior step in the argument I missed out to concentrate on the topical issue - ownership in resources (ie unowned bodies).

    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    In my mind a human body has rights by virtue of being a human body. A human is not an animal and (for societal reasons) the human body is not an animal body. To me, the body remains the possession of the deceased (to some extent anyway) even after death. So your question about necrophilia with an unowned body is not possible; the body is never unowned.
    For how long? Suppose, for example, that I work a field, toiling until I produce a crop - expending my labour in the soil, in order that I might acquire absolute dominion over it. Now suppose that I dig up part of my field to lay foundations for a new greenhouse, and find that underneath there is a historical burial site - and thus, that the soil I toiled was partially comprised of the decomposed bodies buried underneath it; can I continue to claim ownership of the field, or indeed, did I ever own it?

    (Original post by cottonmouth)
    And to be frank, in reality, a corpse doesn't have any rights, even if in your own opinion you think it does. Plus, humans are animals, technically. But i don't wanna be pedantic! A dead thing cannot possess anything, either.
    This is exactly right, to my libertarian viewpoint, otherwise, were a person to die without leaving a will, they would retain 'ownership' over their estate, wouldn't they?

    And cottonmouth - I didn't understand why you said this: "i'm referring to the general tone of the arguements against the opt-out system- all very Libertarian "the government wants your soul, how dare it" in style."

    (Original post by UniofLife)
    As to rights of the deceased I think most people would like their body to be treated with respect which implies some de facto rights to the deceased even if they do not exist in actual law. Furthermore, it has been noted that under British law the rights to the decased go to the next of kin or another appointed individual.
    I have no objection to this - that if an individual contracts, prior to their death, to submit their body post-mortem to another then the contract is still valid, and, were the executor to breach it (for example, by refusing to pass inheritance to the designated heirs) they could be justly sued. But, as I pointed out, it is tradition and the Common Law which dictates that the body goes to the next of kin - and for me, as a libertarian, this kind of government intervention, dictating the use to which unowned resources are put on a blanket basis, is unacceptable.

    On the other hand, were the government (or the health service) to be the first to capitalise on a death by taking out the useful organs, the doctor's expended labour would claim the organs for the firm they work for, just as removing meat from a dead cow claims the meat for the respective firm. Thus, there ought to be no dictated rules about post-mortem ownership of bodies, and instead there ought to be a case-by-case 'competition,' after death, for who could first acquire the body. Of course, if, in doing so, the new owner were to violate another contract (eg. the deceased has expressly prescribed that they wished to be buried) made pre-mortem, then they would be liable to be sued.

    (Original post by UniofLife)
    As such, it doesn't really matter whether the deceased has rights or not, what is clear is that the body is not ownerless for the first person who comes along to take.
    What if you find a dead homeless person's body, or a person whose family had all died? If it is not ownerless, then nobody can move it without the owner's consent - because that is the principle of ownership. So who is the owner of the dead body?
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    (Original post by thermoregulatio)

    On the other hand, were the government (or the health service) to be the first to capitalise on a death by taking out the useful organs, the doctor's expended labour would claim the organs for the firm they work for, just as removing meat from a dead cow claims the meat for the respective firm. Thus, there ought to be no dictated rules about post-mortem ownership of bodies, and instead there ought to be a case-by-case 'competition,' after death, for who could first acquire the body. Of course, if, in doing so, the new owner were to violate another contract (eg. the deceased has expressly prescribed that they wished to be buried) made pre-mortem, then they would be liable to be sued.


    What if you find a dead homeless person's body, or a person whose family had all died? If it is not ownerless, then nobody can move it without the owner's consent - because that is the principle of ownership. So who is the owner of the dead body?
    Thermo, I doubt I'll say this very often but I disagree with you on this. I agree that unowned natural resources should be allocated based on who mixes their labour with them, but I don't see how you can equate someone's body with a tree or a field. People care about what happens to their body after they die; if they don't care, their surviving relatives do. So if they have self ownership while they are alive, why should they not be able to specify what happens to their body (at least who is allowed to make the decisions).

    The dead homeless man's body would be analogous to a house, owned by someone who died without leaving a will or any family. It would be fair game for someone to claim: but if there is provision for someone's body after their death, I don't think you can treat it as a natural resource.
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    (Original post by DrunkHamster)
    Thermo, I doubt I'll say this very often but I disagree with you on this. I agree that unowned natural resources should be allocated based on who mixes their labour with them, but I don't see how you can equate someone's body with a tree or a field. People care about what happens to their body after they die; if they don't care, their surviving relatives do. So if they have self ownership while they are alive, why should they not be able to specify what happens to their body (at least who is allowed to make the decisions).

    The dead homeless man's body would be analogous to a house, owned by someone who died without leaving a will or any family. It would be fair game for someone to claim: but if there is provision for someone's body after their death, I don't think you can treat it as a natural resource.
    I'm sorry to say, but I don't think we disagree at all; earlier in the post you quoted, I said:

    "I have no objection to this - that if an individual contracts, prior to their death, to submit their body post-mortem to another then the contract is still valid, and, were the executor to breach it (for example, by refusing to pass inheritance to the designated heirs) they could be justly sued. But, as I pointed out, it is tradition and the Common Law which dictates that the body goes to the next of kin - and for me, as a libertarian, this kind of government intervention, dictating the use to which unowned resources are put on a blanket basis, is unacceptable."

    But my emphasis was on unowned bodies - like the corpse of a homeless man, or somebody who hadn't made a provision to have their body treated in a specific manner after death which precluded organ donation. So the argument of "opt-out" or "opt-in" is a false dichotomy, because, unless you have explicitly declared that you do (or do not) want to donate your organs, there is no just default position. In the absence of a contract, it merely becomes a competing claim to property between the government and the family, which should be settled by the application of labour - as with an uninherited estate - rather than the imposition of default rules.

    On the other (more libertarian-theory) hand, there is an argument against the acquisition of property by a state (ie a forced collective), which is why I tried to portray the NHS as a firm - just like a private medical business - rather than a government department, with doctors, as employees, acting on behalf of their employers.
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    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    I'd prefer to express that as - a human owns itself by virtue of its capacity to reason, rather than the quasi-tautological "by virtue of being human." Application of labour, as you correctly extract from my statement, is the condition by which one comes to acquire property in unowned resources; but the implicit assumption is of an owner, which, I concede, is a prior step in the argument I missed out to concentrate on the topical issue - ownership in resources (ie unowned bodies).


    For how long? Suppose, for example, that I work a field, toiling until I produce a crop - expending my labour in the soil, in order that I might acquire absolute dominion over it. Now suppose that I dig up part of my field to lay foundations for a new greenhouse, and find that underneath there is a historical burial site - and thus, that the soil I toiled was partially comprised of the decomposed bodies buried underneath it; can I continue to claim ownership of the field, or indeed, did I ever own it?


    This is exactly right, to my libertarian viewpoint, otherwise, were a person to die without leaving a will, they would retain 'ownership' over their estate, wouldn't they?

    And cottonmouth - I didn't understand why you said this: "i'm referring to the general tone of the arguements against the opt-out system- all very Libertarian "the government wants your soul, how dare it" in style."


    I have no objection to this - that if an individual contracts, prior to their death, to submit their body post-mortem to another then the contract is still valid, and, were the executor to breach it (for example, by refusing to pass inheritance to the designated heirs) they could be justly sued. But, as I pointed out, it is tradition and the Common Law which dictates that the body goes to the next of kin - and for me, as a libertarian, this kind of government intervention, dictating the use to which unowned resources are put on a blanket basis, is unacceptable.

    On the other hand, were the government (or the health service) to be the first to capitalise on a death by taking out the useful organs, the doctor's expended labour would claim the organs for the firm they work for, just as removing meat from a dead cow claims the meat for the respective firm. Thus, there ought to be no dictated rules about post-mortem ownership of bodies, and instead there ought to be a case-by-case 'competition,' after death, for who could first acquire the body. Of course, if, in doing so, the new owner were to violate another contract (eg. the deceased has expressly prescribed that they wished to be buried) made pre-mortem, then they would be liable to be sued.


    What if you find a dead homeless person's body, or a person whose family had all died? If it is not ownerless, then nobody can move it without the owner's consent - because that is the principle of ownership. So who is the owner of the dead body?
    You have a particular opinion on how property should be acquired and, obviously, you are entitled to that opinion. However, the discussion at hand here was whether or not an opt-out system was acceptable and in particular the argument that an opt-out system effectively transfers ownership of the body to the government away from the next of kin.

    In the context of this debate, therefore, the fact that British law states that corpses belong to the next of kin is what matters. As such, it can be reasonably argued that an opt-out system is equivalent to the government suddenly claiming ownership of all property in the country and demanding people fill in forms to reclaim their property.

    If you would like to debate whether or not the British law is correct on this issue may I suggest you start a new thread where the different approaches to acquisition can be discussed.
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    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    You have a particular opinion on how property should be acquired and, obviously, you are entitled to that opinion. However, the discussion at hand here was whether or not an opt-out system was acceptable and in particular the argument that an opt-out system effectively transfers ownership of the body to the government away from the next of kin.

    In the context of this debate, therefore, the fact that British law states that corpses belong to the next of kin is what matters. As such, it can be reasonably argued that an opt-out system is equivalent to the government suddenly claiming ownership of all property in the country and demanding people fill in forms to reclaim their property.

    If you would like to debate whether or not the British law is correct on this issue may I suggest you start a new thread where the different approaches to acquisition can be discussed.
    Hmm. You're saying, in precis; 'The "opt-out" system would change British law from what it currently is. This topic is about the "opt-out" system, but if you want to talk about changing British law, you have to start a new topic.' I don't follow the reasoning - if we're discussing improvements to the British law regarding ownership of dead bodies, I think my post is entirely justified in this topic.

    Could you offer a refutation, if you disagree with my arguments, rather than trying to send me elsewhere?
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    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    Hmm. You're saying, in precis; 'The "opt-out" system would change British law from what it currently is. This topic is about the "opt-out" system, but if you want to talk about changing British law, you have to start a new topic.' I don't follow the reasoning - if we're discussing improvements to the British law regarding ownership of dead bodies, I think my post is entirely justified in this topic.

    Could you offer a refutation, if you disagree with my arguments, rather than trying to send me elsewhere?
    If an opt-out system were introduced it wouldn't change the fact that the next of kin have rights over the deceased. A doctor could not decide to cremate a body because there is presumed consent for organ donation. The next of kin would still retain ownership of the body only they would lose the right to prevent the doctors from taking the organs. An analogy would be to say that your house belongs to you but the government will presume that you don't mind them crashing there for a night or two.

    Your arguments, as I have said, are about what the law should be and not what it is. Therefore, the discussion doesn't seem appropriate here because we are discussing the law as it is and the new proposed system would not change that law.

    What you are proposing is that the entire area of law be changed which is a different discussion. Yes, it may have ramifications to this discussion, but that doesn't make it appropriate here (in my opinion).
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    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    If an opt-out system were introduced it wouldn't change the fact that the next of kin have rights over the deceased.
    Yes it would, because the next of kin would not be able to stop the extraction of organs - therefore they wouldn't "have rights over the deceased at all."
    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    A doctor could not decide to cremate a body because there is presumed consent for organ donation. The next of kin would still retain ownership of the body only they would lose the right to prevent the doctors from taking the organs.
    So they retain ownership of some of the body - so it's a legal change as to who owns the rest (ie the organs). And suppose a skin transplant were needed; if opt-outs are in place, why can't a doctor take those? Or eyes? A corpse without skin or eyes is hardly the image of mourned loved-one which the next of kin presently has a right to retain. If this suggestion were implemented, the ownership of the body would pass to the next of kin only once the doctors had finished with it - and therefore only at their discretion (because they might keep it for potential future donations).

    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    An analogy would be to say that your house belongs to you but the government will presume that you don't mind them crashing there for a night or two.
    Who said "night or two"? That's your presumption, but if doctors have the primary right to remove organs, why can't they indefinitely delay returning the body because they might need further organs.

    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    Your arguments, as I have said, are about what the law should be and not what it is. Therefore, the discussion doesn't seem appropriate here because we are discussing the law as it is and the new proposed system would not change that law.

    What you are proposing is that the entire area of law be changed which is a different discussion. Yes, it may have ramifications to this discussion, but that doesn't make it appropriate here (in my opinion).
    The entire area of law would be changed, by dint of this legislation. That you have applied arbitrary caveats (eg. a day or two) does not mean that the government can't hold the body for as long as they want - if they have the primary right to it, after death, which is the implication of this legislation. Thus, the present primary owner is relegated to accepting the government's decision on organ donation, and therefore is no owner at all.

    Let's get back to the point, though. I made a number of points here in response to ponts by you. Would you mind explaining why my argument is wrong, if you think it is?
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    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    I'd prefer to express that as - a human owns itself by virtue of its capacity to reason, rather than the quasi-tautological "by virtue of being human." Application of labour, as you correctly extract from my statement, is the condition by which one comes to acquire property in unowned resources; but the implicit assumption is of an owner, which, I concede, is a prior step in the argument I missed out to concentrate on the topical issue - ownership in resources (ie unowned bodies).


    For how long? Suppose, for example, that I work a field, toiling until I produce a crop - expending my labour in the soil, in order that I might acquire absolute dominion over it. Now suppose that I dig up part of my field to lay foundations for a new greenhouse, and find that underneath there is a historical burial site - and thus, that the soil I toiled was partially comprised of the decomposed bodies buried underneath it; can I continue to claim ownership of the field, or indeed, did I ever own it?


    This is exactly right, to my libertarian viewpoint, otherwise, were a person to die without leaving a will, they would retain 'ownership' over their estate, wouldn't they?

    And cottonmouth - I didn't understand why you said this: "i'm referring to the general tone of the arguements against the opt-out system- all very Libertarian "the government wants your soul, how dare it" in style."


    I have no objection to this - that if an individual contracts, prior to their death, to submit their body post-mortem to another then the contract is still valid, and, were the executor to breach it (for example, by refusing to pass inheritance to the designated heirs) they could be justly sued. But, as I pointed out, it is tradition and the Common Law which dictates that the body goes to the next of kin - and for me, as a libertarian, this kind of government intervention, dictating the use to which unowned resources are put on a blanket basis, is unacceptable.

    On the other hand, were the government (or the health service) to be the first to capitalise on a death by taking out the useful organs, the doctor's expended labour would claim the organs for the firm they work for, just as removing meat from a dead cow claims the meat for the respective firm. Thus, there ought to be no dictated rules about post-mortem ownership of bodies, and instead there ought to be a case-by-case 'competition,' after death, for who could first acquire the body. Of course, if, in doing so, the new owner were to violate another contract (eg. the deceased has expressly prescribed that they wished to be buried) made pre-mortem, then they would be liable to be sued.


    What if you find a dead homeless person's body, or a person whose family had all died? If it is not ownerless, then nobody can move it without the owner's consent - because that is the principle of ownership. So who is the owner of the dead body?
    I was saying that i find the general argument against the proposal was that it was the government trying to take ownership of bodies away from the indivisual, you know, taking away rights and such- the old "leave us alone to do whatever we want, you don't have the right to do anything to me, i make all of my own decisions, the government is suppressive" claptrap that is a common feautre in many of the quasi-Libertarian arguments i read on TSR. Whether the aguments can be described themelves as Libertarian isn't clear, and i'm not politically sound enough on the subject to say i was commenting on the tones of the arguments.
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    As you wanted to go back to this post I will do so. On the point of whether an opt-out system would actually change the law I remain unconvinced. Certainly the next of kin would lose some of the rights over the body but they would still remain the owners. They might not be allowed to prevent organ harvesting but whatever is not taken would belong to them implying that the whole body was their's and the doctors acquired some bits by removing them.

    That's from a legal standpoint, but from a moral or social viewpoint it looks like the government taking ownership of the body.

    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    I'd prefer to express that as - a human owns itself by virtue of its capacity to reason, rather than the quasi-tautological "by virtue of being human." Application of labour, as you correctly extract from my statement, is the condition by which one comes to acquire property in unowned resources; but the implicit assumption is of an owner, which, I concede, is a prior step in the argument I missed out to concentrate on the topical issue - ownership in resources (ie unowned bodies).


    For how long? Suppose, for example, that I work a field, toiling until I produce a crop - expending my labour in the soil, in order that I might acquire absolute dominion over it. Now suppose that I dig up part of my field to lay foundations for a new greenhouse, and find that underneath there is a historical burial site - and thus, that the soil I toiled was partially comprised of the decomposed bodies buried underneath it; can I continue to claim ownership of the field, or indeed, did I ever own it?
    Once a body has decomposed it is no longer a body and is no longer considered to exist. If you found a burial ground you would probably have to move the bodies to another location (not sure about the law on this point). And just because a body retains ownership of itself or at least some rights doesn't mean it can acquire the field it is buried in.

    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    This is exactly right, to my libertarian viewpoint, otherwise, were a person to die without leaving a will, they would retain 'ownership' over their estate, wouldn't they?

    And cottonmouth - I didn't understand why you said this: "i'm referring to the general tone of the arguements against the opt-out system- all very Libertarian "the government wants your soul, how dare it" in style."
    As I said before, a person may retain ownserhip of their body after death but not the ability to own property. In the event of death without a will there are accepted societal laws that come into effect as to who the property is transferred to.

    (Original post by thermoregulatio)
    I have no objection to this - that if an individual contracts, prior to their death, to submit their body post-mortem to another then the contract is still valid, and, were the executor to breach it (for example, by refusing to pass inheritance to the designated heirs) they could be justly sued. But, as I pointed out, it is tradition and the Common Law which dictates that the body goes to the next of kin - and for me, as a libertarian, this kind of government intervention, dictating the use to which unowned resources are put on a blanket basis, is unacceptable.

    On the other hand, were the government (or the health service) to be the first to capitalise on a death by taking out the useful organs, the doctor's expended labour would claim the organs for the firm they work for, just as removing meat from a dead cow claims the meat for the respective firm. Thus, there ought to be no dictated rules about post-mortem ownership of bodies, and instead there ought to be a case-by-case 'competition,' after death, for who could first acquire the body. Of course, if, in doing so, the new owner were to violate another contract (eg. the deceased has expressly prescribed that they wished to be buried) made pre-mortem, then they would be liable to be sued.


    What if you find a dead homeless person's body, or a person whose family had all died? If it is not ownerless, then nobody can move it without the owner's consent - because that is the principle of ownership. So who is the owner of the dead body?
    As above in the case of the deceased without a will there are socially agreed laws that come into effect when a person dies without relatives.

    I think the point here is that you are assuming that ownership is based on the use of labour on an item or that it should be. My view is that this only works on something which is ownerless. So for example if a man made his house ownerless he would effectively be transferring ownership to whoever gets inside it first.

    To take the example of a dead cow. I don't consider a dead cow to be ownerless. Somewhere in the world someone owns that cow unless they specifically made it ownerless.

    Suppose a new island were discovered somewhere and it was completely uninhabited, then whoever claimed it first could claim ownership. It would then be theirs and could not be transferred out of their possesion except by agreement. If that person were to die without heirs the agreement might be a social one that the country he belonged to would take ownership, but I would not view the island as ownerless since it had and owner and again has an owner.

    Perhaps you could explain to me why you think that ownership is only made by applying labour. I feel I may not be fully understanding the premises behind your position.
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    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    As you wanted to go back to this post I will do so. On the point of whether an opt-out system would actually change the law I remain unconvinced. Certainly the next of kin would lose some of the rights over the body but they would still remain the owners. They might not be allowed to prevent organ harvesting but whatever is not taken would belong to them implying that the whole body was their's and the doctors acquired some bits by removing them.
    How can the whole body be the sole property of the next of kin if the government can take bits of it without consent? Surely, the next of kin is only a part owner of the body, and that part is not a constant proportion; if the heart, liver and kidneys are in good condition, then they only own the body minus heart, liver and kidneys; if no organs are taken, the next of kin gets the whole body. So the next of kin has no control over what proportion of the body at the instant of death they own. It is entirely at the government's discretion; as I said, if a skin transplant were needed, why couldn't that be taken, leaving a corpse without some skin - and with no defence for the next of kin.

    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    Once a body has decomposed it is no longer a body and is no longer considered to exist.
    At what point can the body be classed as "decomposed"? This is my main contention; that there is nothing different in the quality of a dead body 5000 years old, 500 years old, 50 years old or 5 years old. For you to hold that after the instant of death, the body retains rights not to be harvested, and that a human skeleton found in a field no longer has them implies that at some point, a corpse ceases to have rights. But we can't date this point - because any date (10 years, 100 years &c) is totally arbitrary. Thus, to be consistent, if a body does not have rights after 1000 years of decomposition underground, it cannot have rights after 1 day of decomposition in a morgue.

    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    And just because a body retains ownership of itself or at least some rights doesn't mean it can acquire the field it is buried in.
    This was linked to the assumption, as above, that if you claim a body to have rights after death, any deadline for this is arbitrary. So if you're insistent that the body retains rights after death, it must have them for eternity. Therefore, when it decomposes, and its atoms are recycled through the soil, as with any animal corpse, the atoms must retain the rights of the whole body - and thus, the farmer who toils that same soil is actually infringing on the rights of the corpse - if indeed there are such rights.

    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    As I said before, a person may retain ownserhip of their body after death but not the ability to own property. In the event of death without a will there are accepted societal laws that come into effect as to who the property is transferred to.
    I know that you said that before - but you didn't explain why. When a person ceases to exist in any corporeal sense at death, their capacity to own property is either totally lost or totally retained. As with the deadline on the decomposition, any line in the sand to demarcate the acceptable region and non-acceptable region is arbitrary. Does a married person have a right to retain their wedding ring after death? The clothes in which they are burried? And if they can retain these things, why not their house and estate?

    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    As above in the case of the deceased without a will there are socially agreed laws that come into effect when a person dies without relatives.
    We aren't dealing with laws, here - you said that yourself after the brief introduction to the post to which I'm currently responding. So just appealing to tradition is inadequate as a moral justification of that tradition.

    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    I think the point here is that you are assuming that ownership is based on the use of labour on an item or that it should be. My view is that this only works on something which is ownerless. So for example if a man made his house ownerless he would effectively be transferring ownership to whoever gets inside it first.

    To take the example of a dead cow. I don't consider a dead cow to be ownerless. Somewhere in the world someone owns that cow unless they specifically made it ownerless.
    You're right that anything can be acquired as property through the application of labour that does not have another physical human being as its owner. The first person to apply their labour to it transforms it from its ownerless state, and thus acquires total dominion over that property.

    The cow example is wrong; nobody necessarily owns the cow - they might breed in the wild (is that possible - I'm not a biologist). On more solid ground, then, take the example of a fox - unowned, you would agree, during its lifetime? So if you find a dead fox and strip its skin for fur, by applying your labour to something that didn't have an owner you become the owner.

    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    Suppose a new island were discovered somewhere and it was completely uninhabited, then whoever claimed it first could claim ownership. It would then be theirs and could not be transferred out of their possesion except by agreement. If that person were to die without heirs the agreement might be a social one that the country he belonged to would take ownership, but I would not view the island as ownerless since it had and owner and again has an owner.
    Just "claiming" ownership doesn't entitle you to it (it's by applying labour to specific things that you gain it). But leaving that point aside, at the moment of his death, who then owns the island?

    An example which, I think, perhaps draws out my point better is this:

    Suppose you are on a yacht with 12 other people, owned by the captain. In a violent storm, the yacht begins to capsize and the captain is thrown overboard. There is a small boat attached to the yacht with room for 4 people. Now that the rightful owner (the captain) is dead, how do you determine who gets to go on the smaller boat?

    The answer, for me, is whoever gets there first, regardless of "social convention." Because by applying their labour to the boat (in a less tangible sense than with farming) they become owners of that part of the boat. Thus, in the absence of clear ownership rights, or the definite death of the rightful owner, the property becomes unowned, in a state of nature, so to speak.

    (Original post by UniOfLife)
    Perhaps you could explain to me why you think that ownership is only made by applying labour. I feel I may not be fully understanding the premises behind your position.
    I don't know whether you're familiar with John Locke, a seventeenth century English philosopher who first coherently explained this philosophy.

    In summary, it is:
    1. You own your person.
    2. You own your labour.
    3. Before things are touched by men, they are in a 'state of nature', without owners.
    4. By applying your labour (which you own) to unowned resources (picking an apple from a tree, sowing crop) you transform things out of the state of nature and into your exclusive ownership (because you were the only person who applied labour to extract the resource).

    From Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government, paragraph 28

    "He that is nourished by the aCorns he pickt up under an Oak, or the Apples he gathered from the Trees in the wood has certainly appropriated them to himself. Nobody can deny but the nourishment is his. I ask then, When did they begin to be his? When he digested? Or when he eat? Or when he boiled? Or when he brought them home? Or when he pickt them up? And 'tis plain, if the first gathering made them not his, nothing else could. That labour put a distinction between them and common. That added something t to them more than nature, the common mother of all, had done; and so they became his private right. And will any one say he had no right to those Acorns or Apples he thus appropriated because he had not the consent of all Mankind to make them his? Was it a Robbery thus to assume to himself what belonged in Common? If such a consent as that was necessary, Man had starved, notwithstanding the plenty God had given him. We see in commons, which remain so by compact, that 'tis the taking any part of what is common, and removing it out of the state nature leaves it in, which begins the property."
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    Given that the entire body, less whatever organs are removed, belongs to the next of kin (you seem not to dispute that) then you will have situations where the entire body is theirs, or sometimes the entire body less the heart and lungs, or less a kidney or eye etc. So, I would posit that given that whatever is not taken belongs to the next of kin, and that what is taken is taken (looking at the global picture) at random from an individual body that in essence the entire body belongs to the next of kin but that the government has reserved the right to acquire parts.

    For example - a person is in ICU - their heart belongs to them. They die. Who does the heart belong to now? You would say (under the opt-out system) that it now belongs to the government. But if the doctors didn't need the heart they wouldn't take it and the heart would belong, like the rest of the body to the next of kin. Since, it seems to me, that in a situation where the doctors decide not to take the anything the body has not been touched or moved or altered in any way whatsoever and now is undoubtedly in the ownership of the next of kin, it must always have been in their ownership since the moment a change happened to that ownership, namely death. Does it not seem impossible to suppose that a change of ownership could happen without anything happening?

    Unless you wish to argue that the body is not theirs until the doctor has signed a release form. In this case the implication would be that the body could be used by the doctor for means other than harvesting organs because he retains ownership indefinitely. This clearly would not be the case in practical terms.

    However, let's move away from the specific application of an opt-out system to the more general case of means of acquisition, since you seem to be talking about what the system should be not what it is.

    I must admit that while being able to think along philosophical lines I haven't studied the topic and am unlikely to have heard of specific ideas by specific people, including John Locke although the name rings a vague bell. However, I would say that his system seems based on an assumption - the assumption that the man who picked the acorns owns them in an absolute sense.

    I would argue that this premise is unfounded. If the town he was in passed a law that acorns were public property he would not own them at all. If a law was passed that stated that all acorns belonged to Mr Smith they would belong to him and not the poor fool who collected them. This reveals that ownership is determined by social agreement, not obtained in an absolute sense and never retained in an absolute sense.
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    I certainly support this proposal, and I think it would go very far in aiding those on the waiting list for organs.

    I know a number of people who are willing to donate, but which do not have time to apply and etc, and this would ensure that unless one is explicit in their objection, every ones organs will be put to good use rather than rot away.
 
 
 
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