Killing People for their Organs

Many people believe they have a knockdown objection to utilitarian moral theory. They argue that utilitarianism implies that it is morally permissible to kill people for their organs in order to save other people. They argue this conclusion is repugnant and obviously wrong, and that therefore utilitarianism must also be a repugnant, obviously wrong moral theory. Sophisticated critics attempt to explain why killing people for their organs is obviously wrong–they claim it uses people as a means to someone else’s ends. In this case, the people killed for their organs are said to be used as a means to the ends of those in need of transplants. As someone with strongly utilitarian leanings, it is important that I have a response to this case, so here goes.

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