Polling and public policy

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1 Scopus citations


This commentary distinguishes five reasons why one might want to conduct a survey concerning people's beliefs about death and the permissibility of harvesting organs: (1) simply to learn what people know and want; (2) to determine if current law and practice conform to the wishes of the population; (3) to determine the level of popular support for or opposition to policy changes; (4) to ascertain the causes and effects of popular beliefs and attitudes; and (5) to provide guidance in determining which laws and practices are ethical. The commentary expresses qualms about how well surveys in general can perform with respect to the fifth objective, and it provides specific reasons to doubt whether this survey is informative from the perspective of a moral philosopher concerned with the nature of death and the contours of a permissible system of organ procurement.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)241-247
Number of pages7
JournalKennedy Institute of Ethics Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2004
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Health(social science)
  • Health Policy
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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