Canberra Skeptics talk: Why We Should be Buying Kidneys from ‘Donors’ from Poor Countries

Speaker: Dr. Jeremy Shearmur
Location: Lecture theatre, Innovations Building, Eggleston Rd, ANU

There is currently a shortage of kidneys in Australia – in the sense of there being people who will live poor-quality lives on dialysis, and die, because of kidney failure. Things will soon get much worse, not least because of the effects of type-2 diabetes, which is now becoming increasingly prevalent in our population. The government favours the kind of approach that has been adopted in Spain, in which particularly good efforts are made to ‘harvest’ the kidneys of those who are suitable to donate, who die on life support. This approach, even if fully adopted, could not possibly resolve the problems that will face us. Dr Jeremy Shearmur will argue that what we should work towards is a fully legalized, and also privately certified, program for the purchase of kidneys from healthy, voluntary live donors from poorer countries. Dr Shearmur will explain why, on the one side, the ethical objections to such a program are mistaken and how practical difficulties can be overcome. He will also argue that this is also currently to be preferred to all other feasible options known to him.

Jeremy Shearmur is a Reader in Philosophy, and currently Deputy Head of School, in the School of Philosophy, Australian National University. He has previously worked at the London School of Economics, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Manchester and George Mason University, and was also Director of Studies at the Centre for Policy Studies in London. He has written books on Friedrich Hayek and Karl Popper, and was co-editor of Popper’s After The Open Society. He has also published widely on issues from how to solve the ‘NIMBY’ problem, to ‘Intelligent Design’. He hopes to finish his much-delayed Living With Markets this year – a volume which will inter alia, discuss the supply of blood and kidneys, and possibly also pornography.

No need to book but note that theatre holds 106.

Dinner will follow the lecture (venue tbc). To RSVP for dinner please contact