Suicide, organ donation, and meaning in life: Some disturbing reflections

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


This chapter tries to connect the issues of suicide, organ donation, and meaning in life and suggests novel and somewhat extreme ways of dealing with them. It offers, first, a 'Modest plan' (MP) for publicly connecting organ donation with meaning in life. This would involve donating, for example, a kidney when alive. Second, an 'Ambitious plan' (AP) focuses on potential suicides. It explores whether these plans ought to be applied, and it considers the dangers. The chapter then looks at what our likely resistance to these proposals indicates. There are reasons for pragmatic pessimism for whether anything like the MP or AP will be seriously considered. This seems to tell us disappointing things about our rationality and social motivation, as well as our commitments to enhancing personal virtue, public discussion, and meaning in life. It also firmly embeds us even further in paradoxical territory, highlighting absurdity. This chapter ends by briefly exploring some further bold possible implications of the discussion, for current organ allocation particularly with respect to opportunities and dangers opened by future technology.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationExtreme Philosophy
Subtitle of host publicationBold Ideas and a Spirit of Progress
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9781003824862
ISBN (Print)9781032317397
StatePublished - 9 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Stephen Hetherington. All rights reserved.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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