Kidney Sale and the Challenge of Human Dignity: A Comparative Analysis of Quranic and Kantian Approaches

Document Type : Research Paper


Assistant Professor, Shahid Beheshti University, Tehran, Iran.


A controversial question in medical ethics is whether or not organ sale amounts to a violation of human dignity. To answer the question, we need to analyze various approaches to the problem of human dignity. In this paper, I focus on Islamic-Quranic and Kantian approaches to the problem, and examine the challenge of human dignity concerning kidney sale with a descriptive-analytic method. I show that, on both approaches, kidney sale per se does not compromise human dignity. Rather, it may as well protect human dignity and esteem. The key difference between the two approaches is with respect to conditions to be met in order for kidney sale to accord with human dignity. According to the Quranic account of human dignity, kidney sale will be compatible with human dignity and will thus be morally permissible if it is done for the sake of divine consent or satisfaction. However, on Kant’s view, kidney sale will be permissible when it is done out of respect for the law of reason, without involving any instrumentalization of a human being and his body organs. Other differences between the two approaches consist in the origin of human dignity, instrumental or non-instrumental view of the reason, and the extent of responsibility towards others.


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