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Med Health Care Philos. 2016 Jun;19(2):215-25. doi: 10.1007/s11019-015-9658-1.

The ethics of killing human/great-ape chimeras for their organs: a reply to Shaw et al.

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Institute for Science Ethics and Innovation, The University of Manchester, Oxford Road M13 9PL Stopford Building, Room 3.383, Manchester, UK.


The aim of this paper is to critically examine David Shaw, Wybo Dondorp, and Guido de Wert's arguments in favour of the procurement of human organs from human/nonhuman-primate chimeras, specifically from great-ape/human chimeras. My main claim is that their arguments fail and are in need of substantial revision. To prove this I first introduce the topic, and then reconstruct Shaw et al.'s position and arguments. Next, I show that Shaw et al.: (1) failed to properly apply the subsidiarity and proportionality principles; (2) neglected species overlapping cases in their ethical assessment; (3) ignored the ethics literature on borderline persons; and (4) misunderstood McMahan's two-tiered moral theory. These mistakes render an important part of their conclusions either false or problematic to the point that they would no longer endorse them. Finally I will briefly mention a possible multipolar solution to the human organ shortage problem that would reduce the need for chimeras' organs.


Chimeras; Great ape; Human-nonhuman chimeras; Nonhuman animals; Organ donation; Part-human

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