Income Redistribution, Body Part Redistribution, and Respect for the Separateness of Persons
This article considers the question of why labor income may be permissibly redistributed to the poor even though non-essential body parts should generally be protected from redistribution to the infirm – the body-income puzzle. It argues that proposed solutions that affirm self-ownership but reject ownership of labor income are unsuccessful. And proposed solutions that grant individuals entitlements to resources based on the centrality of those resources to the individual’s personal identity are also unsuccessful. Instead, this article defends a solution to the body-income puzzle based on a novel conception of respect for the separateness of persons. This conception holds that the sphere of moral authority protected from interference by respect for the separateness of persons includes both the body and labor income. And the strength of the negative rights constituting this sphere vary based on these rights' importance to the personal identity of the right-holder. It is shown that a commitment to helping the disadvantaged tempered by this conception of respect for the separateness of persons can solve the body-income puzzle.