Biomedical Ethics

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Subject Area: 
Course Number: 
PHIL 072 920
Primary Program: 
Course Note: 
Online Course Fee: $150 (in addition to course tuition and fees)
Course Description: 

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.  Bur, 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, reproductive technology, confidentiality, informed consent, advance directives, euthanasia, assisted dying, and scarce resource allocation 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.Our primary objectives in this course we (1) to gain an understanding of some of the central issues and positions in contemporary biomedical ethics; (2) to address a number of specific biomedical ethical challenges, exploring the practical implications these challenges have for medical professionals and other relevant individuals, e.g., parents, caretakers, surrogate decision-makers; and (3) to develop foundational skills in critical thinking and moral reasoning that can be extended beyond the classroom context.

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