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Kennedy Inst Ethics J. 2004 Sep;14(3):241-7.

Polling and public policy.

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University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.


This commentary distinguishes five reasons why one might want to conduct a survey concerning people's beliefs about death and the permissibility of harvesting organs: (1) simply to learn what people know and want; (2) to determine if current law and practice conform to the wishes of the population; (3) to determine the level of popular support for or opposition to policy changes; (4) to ascertain the causes and effects of popular beliefs and attitudes; and (5) to provide guidance in determining which law and practices are ethical. The commentary expresses qualms about how well surveys in general can perform with respect to the fifth objective, and it provides specific reasons to doubt whether this survey is informative from the perspective of a moral philosopher concerned with the nature of death and the contours of a permissible system of organ procurement.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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