Me or Mine? On Property from Personhood, Symbolic Existence and Motivation to Donate Organs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Empirical studies show that before they die, people interpret and apportion cues to their personal identities for those who will survive. Dying people begin to make sense of their lives by accentuating portions of their personal histories for which they wish to be remembered. One way to supply survivors with such information is planning for disposal of one's body and donating organs after death.

Following Margaret Radin's notion of property from personhood, I argue for a proprietary interest in one's body parts once they are separated from the body and capable of representing one's self. I further argue that through some of her major organs, one continues to symbolically exist in the world and that the decisions whether, which and to whom donate organs are influenced by the attitudes and beliefs one holds with respect to one's symbolic existence. By using Russell Belk's idea of the extended self and some recent empirical studies supporting my argument I call for the expansion of our knowledge on the reasons and motivations for organ donation as part of a more general effort to construct national and international policy in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOrgan transplantation: ethical, legal and psychological aspects - towards a common European policy
EditorsW. Weimar, Bos, J.J. van Busschbach
PublisherPabst Science Publishers
Number of pages7
StatePublished - 2008


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