Our topic this week is Regulating Bodies. My first gut instinct is to say that nobody really has the right to tell me what to do with my own body -- not even the government. It’s my body. I can do with it as I please. But then I realize that there are things like mandatory seat belt laws, prohibitions against prostitution, and laws against the buying and selling of bodily organs. All these things involve the regulation of the body. So it is definitely true that the state does regulate our bodies. But should the state really be in that business?
What is it
Most countries allow their citizens to smoke cigarettes, get intoxicated, and eat unhealthy food – despite the harms that such behaviors may bring to the individual's health and to the social and economic interests of the state. Yet taking certain narcotics, selling one's organs, and driving without a seat-belt are often prohibited by law. Is this an arbitrary distinction, or is there a principled reason for these diverging attitudes? What can government legitimately prohibit its citizens from doing to their own bodies -- and what can it legitimately compel them to do? John and Ken are joined by Cécile Fabre from the University of Oxford, author of Whose Body is it Anyway? Justice and the Integrity of the Person.