Philosopher sees need for human organ markets

On Jan. 30, renowned philosopher James Taylor visited SHU to discuss the need for markets for human organs. The discussion, which was held in Bethany Hall, was part of the “Philosophers Speak” lecture series.

Marie Leone/ Staff Photographer

Taylor said he presents in these types of discussion panels roughly six to 12 times a year, mainly at universities and medical schools. He discussed how much safer it is to make the selling of organs a more common practice, rather than having people resort to non-reliable and unsafe outlets, such as the black market.

“Why would you go to the black market when you can go to your local hospital and Blue Cross or Blue Shield would pay for it,” Taylor said.

William Moore, a senior accounting and philosophy major, enjoyed the lecture. “One of my absolute favorite areas of philosophy is normative ethics, so the subject of the talk was of immediate interest to me,” Moore said.

Moore said he first heard about the talk from some of his professors, who said they would discuss it in class. Moore said, without hesitation, that he immensely enjoyed the lecture.

“The professor giving the talk was a really excellent speaker, and involved the audience on several occasions,” Moore said.

Throughout the engaging lecture, Taylor discussed why the commoditization of human livers and organ transplants would be important in society. He said his main focus was on kidneys and how important it would be to have a bigger and better supply of kidneys.

“It’s just going to be good for everyone who needs a kidney,” Taylor said. “It can be good for people who need the money and are willing to sell their kidneys. Everybody wins.”

Bryan Pilkington, a faculty member in the Department of Interprofessional Health Sciences and Health Administration, said he was very fond of Taylor’s approach on the subject and how careful he was towards objections. Pilkington added that he was surprised at the responses from the students who attended.

“I’m new to SHU and I was happy to see how engaged the philosophy students were,” Pilkington said.

Abe Zakhem, an associate professor in the philosophy department, said he also enjoyed having the internationally renowned scholar come and speak on an important and rising topic in the ethics field.

Zakhem described Taylor as a “perfect fit” for the lecture series, giving thought-provoking and often controversial lectures.

Both Zakhem and Pilkington said they would like to see more of these types of lectures at Seton Hall. Both professors explained that they believe that these types of conversations, open up ideas and stir questions on how one would go about finding the answers to these deep inquiries.

Zakhem said he believes that these lectures are not only engaging and intuitive, but also needed. “As we seek to navigate today’s exceedingly complex world, these philosophical conversations continue to prove not only poignant, but also urgent, necessary, and practical,” he said.

Ronald Castaneda can be reached at

Author: Ronald Castaneda

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