top of page

Body Parts in the Law

Tue 27th

16:20 - 16:40

It's a universally recognised principle that human beings are people and bits of metal are things. Except, when you take a bit of metal and bolt it onto a snapped femur, that's suddenly not the case anymore. Is that bit of metal in our metaphorical patient's leg their property, or is it part of their body, in the same way as an organ?

The courts tend to shy away from discussing this in any great amount of detail (as most people would if someone suddenly brought up body parts), so the academic community has taken up the issue. On one side are the academics proposing that body parts should be recognised as property; other academics that believe that in stating that body parts are property, it objectifies the body.

But the real problem isn't with whether or not body parts should be property, it's with the dichotomy pitting persons against property.

Chris Charnley


College of Social Sciences

"Hi there; I'm going to talk to you about body parts."I've recently found out that there is no better way to make a terrible impression on anyone than by saying those words, so I'm at something of a disadvantage here. Everyone seems to slowly edge away from you...I come from St. Andrews (no, I do not play golf) and I'm currently in my fourth year of studying law. My interest in body parts came about while doing research for my dissertation. As one of those strange people that enjoys reading about legal theory - in particular, ownership of the body - this really caught my attention. As a complete sci-fi nerd, I began to wonder how the current theories would interact with the technology employed within the body, both currently and in the future.After graduating, I hope to enter the academic field, and continue to make people think I'm weird by talking about body parts far more than should be considered healthy for a normal person.


bottom of page