NOTE: THIS IS AN ONLINE COURSE. Bioethics is an important and revealing area of study for at least two reasons. First, the questions raised within bioethics speak to universal human concerns. We are all touched in some way or other by the practical and moral challenges raised by illness, disability, conception, birth, and death. But, second, although the issues raised within bioethics are intensely personal and practical, they also reflect philosophical concerns taken up within ethical theory, such as questions about moral status, autonomy, truth-telling, and justice.
A central theme running throughout this course is the relationship between ethical theory, on the one hand, and the actual practices and experiences of facing choices about health and mortality, on the other. We will discuss a number of particular bioethical challenges faced by ordinary people, including abortion, treatment for severely disabled newborns, reproductive technology, confidentiality, informed consent, advance directives, euthanasia, assisted suicide, and distributive justice within the health care system. As we explore these issues, we will not shy away from the more abstract philosophical questions they raise, just as we will consider how actual practical challenges serve as crucial ?test cases? for ethical theories.
Students will be responsible for (1) producing a series of writing assignments, (2) completing several quizzes and worksheets, and (3) actively and collaboratively contributing to the success of class through a number of weekly online exercises.