Utilitas

Review Essay

Is the Body Special? Review of Cécile Fabre, Whose Body is it Anyway? Justice and the Integrity of the Person

NIR EYALa1

a1 Harvard University Nir_Eyal@hms.harvard.edu

Cécile Fabre, Whose Body is it Anyway? Justice and the Integrity of the Person (Oxford and New York: Clarendon Press, 2006).

Both left libertarians, who support the redistribution of income and wealth through taxation, and right libertarians, who oppose redistributive taxation, share an important view: that, looming catastrophes aside, the state must never redistribute any part of our body or our person without our consent. Cécile Fabre rejects that view. For her, just as the undeservedly poor have a just claim to money from their fellow citizens in order to lead a minimally flourishing life (here Fabre sides with left libertarians), the undeservedly ‘medically poor’ have a just claim to help from fellow citizens in order to lead such a life. Such obligatory help may in principle involve even the supply of body parts for transplantation. The state ought to exact such resources from the medically rich whenever doing so would secure the prospect of a minimally flourishing life to the medically poor without denying that prospect to anyone else. Fabre criticizes Ronald Dworkin's belief in ‘a prophylactic line that comes close to making the body inviolate, that is, making body parts not parts of social resources at all’. For her, ‘Duties to help . . . do not stop at material resources: they involve the body . . . in invasive ways’ (p. 119).