Property in Human Biomaterials - Separating Persons & Things?

Muireann Quigley

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


    The traditional ‘no property’ approach of the law to human biomaterials has long been punctured by exceptions. Developments in the jurisprudence of property in human tissue in English law and beyond demonstrate that a variety of tissues are capable of being subject to proprietary considerations. Further, among commentators, there are few who would deny, given biotechnological advances, that such materials can be considered thus. Yet, where commentators do admit human biomaterials into the realm of property, it is often done with an emphasis on some sort of separation from the person who is the source of those materials. One line of argument suggests that there is a difference between persons and things, which constitutes a morally justifiable distinction when it comes to property. This article examines whether the idea of separability can do the work of demarcating those objects that ought to be considered property from those that ought not to be. It argues that, despite the entailment of a separability criterion inherent in both the statutory and common law positions, and the support given to this by some commentators, it is philosophically problematic as the basis for delineating property in human tissue and other biomaterials.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationOxford Journal of Legal Studies
    Place of PublicationUnited Kingdom
    PublisherOxford University Press
    Number of pages33
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012
    EventRoyal Institute of Philosophy Seminar Series - Keele
    Duration: 24 Jan 2012 → …

    Publication series

    NameOxford Journal of Legal Studies
    PublisherOxford University Press
    ISSN (Print)1464-3820
    ISSN (Electronic)1464-3820


    ConferenceRoyal Institute of Philosophy Seminar Series
    Period24/01/12 → …


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