Don’t settle for being a good debater. You can be great. Click here to visit my Debate Academy to inquire about personal coaching, purchase briefs, and more.
Resolved: A just society ought to presume consent for organ procurement from the deceased.
This topic is interesting because it provides for a great deal of clash and really brings in to question our conception of justice and what it entails. It’s a great way to start off the new debate season. So, let’s get to it.
Organ procurement – This is the act of getting an organ from a body, simply put. In modern societies this is typically done in and by medical institutions.
Presume consent – Presuming consent means that society assumes a person is willing to donate his/her organs unless explicitly stated otherwise.
Deceased – I anticipate some flaky positions around this definition, so I put it in here just in case. Deceased means dead, completely. In does not mean in a debatable state of death or effectively dead, like PVS. The intent of the resolution is clearly to only focus on those who are unarguably dead.
Just society – This is up to you to define in your case, and your argument will largely center around this definition. What does it mean for a society to be just?
Ought – Ought means should. The resolution asks the question of what a just society should do. As indicated by the definition above, that is up to you to determine.
1. Utilitarianism – The only truly just society is a utilitarian one. When we look out for the greatest good for the greatest number of people, society is served better, and it ensures that the most people receive their due. To that end, a just society would assume consent for organ procurement to provide care for the greatest number of people.
2. Veil of Ignorance – The only way to arrive at a truly just system of social justice is to approach policy from behind a veil of ignorance. That is to say, everyone should imagine that they could wake up tomorrow and be anyone in society. This allows us to make completely objective decisions. From behind a veil of ignorance, it is clear that a person would always be in favor of assumed consent for organ procurement. Therefore, such consent must be assumed.
3. Assumed consent is not a violation of autonomy – Assumed consent is not the same as forced consent. A person is still free to say no if they should choose to do so. Therefore, their autonomy is not violated, and there is a net which effectively catches all those people who are too lazy to register as organ donors. Promoting life is a requisite for any just society, and this is one of the easiest ways to help meet that requisite.
1. Coherence Theory – In order for moral truths to be true, they must be in coherence with already established moral truths. We do not assume consent for other medical procedures. Surgeries are not performed without explicit written consent. Assuming consent for organ procurement would be a drastic departure from already established rules of consent, and therefore, a just society would never elect to assume consent for organ procurement.
2. Self-determination entails agency – Autonomy rests upon the idea that the person who the choice is affecting makes the decision. He/she must be the agent of action in making that decision. Assumed consent does not allow for that agency, and therefore, can never be a truly autonomous decision. A just society is predicated upon respecting the autonomy of its citizens and cannot assume consent for organ procurement.
3. Property Rights – Locke’s social contract outlines that one of the precise reasons we enter into a society is to have our property protected. That is one of the fundamental bases of a just society. Assuming consent directly violates that property protection. It’s like assuming consent to take someone’s estate once they’re deceased and redistribute the wealth.
Hopefully this will help you get started. Good luck!