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Bodyworlds and the ethics of using human remains: a preliminary discussion.

Authors
  • Barilan, Y Michael
Type
Published Article
Journal
Bioethics
Publication Date
Sep 01, 2006
Volume
20
Issue
5
Pages
233–247
Identifiers
PMID: 17100007
Source
Medline
Keywords
License
Unknown

Abstract

Accepting the claim that the living have some moral duties with regard to dead bodies, this paper explores those duties and how they bear on the popular travelling exhibition Bodyworlds. I argue that the concept of informed consent presupposes substantial duties to the dead, namely duties that reckon with the meaning of the act in question. An attitude of respect and not regarding human remains as mere raw material are non-alienable substantial duties. I found the ethos of Bodyworlds premature but full of promises such as public attitudes to organ donations. At the practical level I conclude that Bodyworlds should use only willed donations or unclaimed bodies for which dignified funerals are not available. In the case of live donations, Bodyworlds has a duty to participate in the medical care of needy donors. However, secrecy with regard to the source of cadavers seems to be the most troublesome aspect of Bodyworlds.

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