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Read the Case carefully.

Post your answer to: Should human blood be commodified?

Argue yes/no and explain in your post.

CASE: Blood For Sale

SOL LEvIN WAS A SUCCESSFUL StOCKbROKER in Tampa, Florida, when he recognized the potentially profitable market for safe and uncontaminated blood and, with some col­ leagues, founded Plasma International. Not everybody is willing to make money by selling his or her own blood, and in the begin­ ning Plasma International bought blood from people addicted to drugs and alcohol. Although innovative marketing increased Plasma International’s sales dramatically, several cases of hepa­ titis were reported in recipients. The company then began look­ ing for new sources of blood.21 Plasma International searched worldwide and, with the advice of a qualified team of medical consultants, did extensive testing. Eventually they found that the blood profiles of several rural West African tribes made them ideal prospective donors. After negotia­ tions with the local government, Plasma International signed an agreement with several tribal chieftains to purchase blood. Business went smoothly and profitably for Plasma Inter­ national until a Tampa paper charged that Plasma was purchasing blood for as little as fifteen cents a pint and then reselling it to hos­ pitals in the United States and South America for $25 per pint. In one recent disaster, the newspaper alleged, Plasma International had sold 10,000 pints, netting nearly a quarter of a million dollars. The newspaper story stirred up controversy in Tampa, but the existence of commercialized blood marketing systems in the United States is nothing new. Approximately half the blood and plasma obtained in the United States is bought and sold like any other commodity. By contrast, the National Health Service in Great Britain relies entirely on a voluntary system of blood dona­ tion. Blood is neither bought nor sold. It is available to anyone who needs it without charge or obligation, and donors gain no preference over nondonors. In an important study, economist Richard Titmuss showed that the British system works better than the American one in terms of economic and administrative efficiency, price, and blood quality. The commercialized blood market, Titmuss argued, is wasteful of blood and plagued by shortages. In the United States, bureaucratization, paperwork, and administrative overhead result in a cost per unit of blood that is five to fifteen times higher than it is in Great Britain. Hemophiliacs, in particular, are disadvantaged by the U.S. system and have enormous bills to pay. In addition, commercial markets are much more likely to distribute contami­ nated blood. Titmuss also argued that the existence of a commercialized system discourages voluntary donors. People are less apt to give blood if they know that others are selling it. Psychologists have found similar conflicts between financial incentives and moral or altruistic conduct in other areas.22 Philosopher Peter Singer has elaborated on this point in the case of blood: If blood is a commodity with a price, to give blood means merely to save someone money. Blood has a cash value of a certain number of dollars, and the importance of the gift will vary with the wealth of the recipient. If blood can­ not be bought, however, the gift’s value depends upon the need of the recipient. Often, it will be worth life itself. Under these circumstances blood becomes a very special kind of gift, and giving it means providing for strangers, without hope of reward, something they cannot buy and without which they may die. The gift relates strangers in a manner that is not possible when blood is a commodity. This may sound like a philosopher’s abstraction, far removed from the thoughts of ordinary people. On the contrary, it is an idea spontaneously expressed by British donors in response to Titmuss’s questionnaire. As one woman, a machine operator, wrote in reply to the question why she first decided to become a blood donor: “You can’t get blood from supermarkets and chain stores. People themselves must come forward; sick people can’t get out of bed to ask you for a pint to save their life, so I came forward in hopes to help somebody who needs blood.”

Just a guide that our professor provided us on how to write a post.

Argument Formula

Case Name/Number:

Argument: This sentence states what you are arguing. (E.g. X is morally wrong)

Premise 1: One reason for my argument is. . . . .

Premise 2: Another reason for my argument is. . . . .

The moral theory which best supports my argument is: (choose from Utilitarian, Kantian, Ross, Rawls)

and explain HOW the theory supports your argument.

Opposing view: consider an argument that disagrees with yours. Explain it.

Refute Opposing view: then, say why the opposing view does not work and why your argument is logical

and valid.

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