Fewer Mistakes and Presumed Consent

Fewer Mistakes and Presumed Consent
Alexander Zambrano
The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 2 January 2021; 46(1) pp 58–79
“Opt-out” organ procurement policies based on presumed consent are typically advertised as being superior to “opt-in” policies based on explicit consent at securing organs for transplantation. However, Michael Gill (2004) has argued that presumed consent policies are also better than opt-in policies at respecting patient autonomy. According to Gill’s Fewer Mistakes Argument, we ought to implement the procurement policy that results in the fewest frustrated wishes regarding organ donation. Given that the majority of Americans wish to donate their organs, it is plausible that a presumed consent policy would result in fewer frustrated wishes compared to the current opt-in policy. It follows that we ought to implement a policy of presumed consent. In this paper, I first consider and find wanting an objection to the Fewer Mistakes Argument developed recently by Douglas MacKay (2015). I also consider an objection put forth by James Taylor (2012) but argue that there is a methodological reason to prefer my own argument to Taylor’s. Finally, I argue for two theses: first, that Gill’s major argument in favor of the crucial premise of the Fewer Mistakes Argument is flawed, and second, that the major premise of the Fewer Mistakes Argument is false.

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