Living Organ Donation, Beneficient Helping, & the Kantian Concept of Partial Self-Murder


This paper deals with the ethical issues concerning living organ donor transplantation in the context of Immanuel Kant’s Ethical Theory. It primarily aims to refute the common perception about Kant’s categorical opposition to organ transplantation as violative to his concept of duty of self-preservation (transplantation as a form of mutilation or partial suicide). In this paper we will argue that: 1) Kantian concept of mutilation, or partial self-murder, should be perceived within the context of Kant’s prohibition of killing oneself; 2) Kant does not prohibit all forms of organ donation as contrary to duty of self-preservation (i.e., duty to maintain quality of life and donation as violative to the strict prohibition against mutilation). Organ donation could hardly be considered as mutilation or contrary to duty of self-preservation if the following conditions are satisfied: 1) the organ to be donated and the surgical procedure involved, would not pose grave risk (e.g. physical disability and death) to the donor; and 2) the moral personality of the donor would not be at risk by donating his organ.

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Articulo, A. (2014) Living Organ Donation, Beneficient Helping, & the Kantian Concept of Partial Self-Murder. Open Journal of Philosophy, 4, 502-509. doi: 10.4236/ojpp.2014.44052.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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