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When Altruism Is Not Moral

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The purpose of this essay is to critically examine the article “When altruism isn’t moral written by Sally Satel. The article by Sally provides arguments, explanation and attempts to persuade readers on the importance of creating incentives for benevolent donors in the organ transplant system. To prove this, the author sought to find a middle ground between the poles of selflessness and that of greed in the system by providing the enabling environment for a balanced argument by researchers in similar fields on the subject matter, such as economists, philosophers seasoned health practioners and social scientist in government and private agencies. Being also an active receiver of such organ donations in the past, her expert knowledge in the field is unquestionable. The author is dedicated to the strong belief that society owes voluntary organ donors well meaning compensation for their generosity.

These study would therefore attempt to conduct an assessment of the research paper using analysis which best convey my thoughts.


The author introduced the article to the audience with a short story that served to make us ponder over the topic. Often times, many writers use story telling as a veritable tool to inform, advise and paint stories to the audience. Another name for these short personal stories is Anecdotes. Anecdotes, or short personal stories, possess have several uses. The specific use of anecdote generates a spectrum of diversity in experience and perspective. Moreover, they emphasize the value of personal experience, above other perspectives related to those of facts or professional. Anecdotes signify the variation of experience and inspire compassion. Storytelling is an art form that everyone, even if unknowingly, participates in.

The essence of introducing the story of Matt Thompson donating a kidney to Sonny Davis after the reluctance of friends, relatives to assist and initial rejection by the Transplant program at Kaiser Permanente, North California did well to present the writer as an expert in the field of organ donor transplant system. It may also serve as a move to increase the writer’s credibility amongst the readers. Effective use of anecdotes would not only endear the audience to the subject matter but also demonstrated firsthand knowledge of the issue.

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Logical Reasoning

Although Sally pinned a large degree of her arguments on “The woeful inadequacy of our nation’s transplant policy is due to its reliance on “altruism”” to support her generalizations, this was made hurriedly and was not supported by more than two examples in the article. Determining that the United States with over 50 states’ transplant policy relying on data from a single state – California only is totally hasty and a fallacy of defective induction. The adjective “woeful” presents the picture of a deplorable, pathetic, atrocious, hopeless or substandard system. I am very convinced that was not the real state of things. Inference based on a single state erodes the reliability of the article and cast doubt on the presentation of evidence. However, accolades must be bestowed on the writer for her ability to efficiently provide accurate comparison of the subject matter with outcomes in other sectors. According to Satel in her article “Today we routinely assign valuation to the body. Human blood plasma is collected primarily through paid donation. Personal injury lawyers seek damages for bodily harm to their clients. The Veteran’s Administration put a price on physical disabilities; we pay for justice in the context of personal injury litigation in the form of legal costs, and for very lives in the form of medical fees”. This statement would lay credence to the accusation of “double standard” for equal payments for compensating sperm, blood donors to create life as well as organ donors.

Bias and Tone

Based on the author’s admittance of being a recipient of similar humanitarian gesture of a kidney failure in the past from an unknown friend raises doubts in my mind surrounding the motives behind article. The writer clearly demonstrated her unequivocal support for the introduction of motivation incentives to save lives by stating that “it is not the most motivating course for organ donation out of all the alternatives to save people’s lives”. The author also shared her experience and recommended improvements in the system. It is can be inferred that her inspiration behind championing the article was to ensure that her donor was rewarded for the action which saved her life. Several times the issue of morality was a frequently discussed topic in the paper. It seems a daunting task to separate exploitation from this selfless behavior. It is a proven fact that a lot of donors would attempt to take advantage of the financial gain than the tax benefits , waivers or grants provided by government but there has to be a lasting solution to stem the tide of over four thousand people who reportedly die yearly from the absence of donors. With the growing numbers of reported cases for the need for kidney transplant against the marginal presence of actual donors, something needs to be done fast.


Altruism has been termed by various authors as a selfless behavior conveyed by a human being on another at no cost at all. Numerous reasons have always been adduced to be responsible for these actions. However, the article in review has made a valid case for the adequate compensation of kidney organ plant donors for their roles in saving lives at no cost at all. Also worthy to mention are the lessening of the rules and regulation guiding organ transplant donor system to pave the way for more interested people with altruism to play their part in ensuring that more lives are saved. The author emphasized the reasons why society owes this unique set of people a whole debt of gratitude.

Regardless of the perceived challenges with the current national policy on Kidney transplant donors, I will stand with the author of this article on the need for government to identify and compensate these heroes and heroines who without concern for themselves sacrifice at no cost at all. They can only be “Super Humans” as it is very difficult to stumble on based on rationality.

The United States government is therefore advised to launch a comprehensive review on the existing Kidney donor transplant policy in line with other health policy such as sperm or blood.

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When Altruism Is Not Moral. (2021, September 29). Edubirdie. Retrieved March 5, 2024, from
“When Altruism Is Not Moral.” Edubirdie, 29 Sept. 2021,
When Altruism Is Not Moral. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 5 Mar. 2024].
When Altruism Is Not Moral [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2021 Sept 29 [cited 2024 Mar 5]. Available from:
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