>To what extent do we own our bodies?
>Hillel Steiner, a political philosopher, wrote about how he spotted several teenagers in his local supermarket with t-shirts saying “Sell your body”. As it turns out they were selling advertising space, but Steiner used the point to note approvingly that the right of self-ownership, which he saw as implied in the slogan, is one of the key human rights. Under this logic we should have the right to sell our bodies, as well as the right to refuse to do so.
Steiner hits upon a subject that often comes up in everyday language. Ever heard the phrase “it’s my body and I’ll do what I want with it”? This is not necessarily what people who say this mean, but it implies a division between mind and body. It implies that the real us is our mind, and that our body is our property, to do with as we wish.
The two most obvious views to the contrary come from religion, and from Marxism. In one of St Paul’s letters to the Corinthians he tells them that their body is “a temple of the holy spirit, who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own.” Opinions within other major religions like Islam and Judaism are similar. Yet there are many other objections to the idea of treating the body as a marketable commodity. Marxism implies that to think of your body thus is the ultimate in capitulation to Capitalism. Indeed Marxist thinker George Lukács took it as the final stage in self alienation.
What do you think? Should we have the right to sell bits of our bodies as we please? Should our bodies be treated as property? Should they even be treated as ours?