Biomedical Ethics 



This is a survey course. You will learn "the basics" - vocabulary, concepts, and the theories associated with Ethics and Biomedical Ethics and you will have the opportunity to discuss many topics with other students and with me. Finally, you will be encouraged to learn a bit about how to DO Philosophy.

To provide an idea of what we shall be covering, here is a listing of the modules in this course.

Chapter 1 Introduction

Chapter 2 Ethical Traditions

Chapter 3 The Moral Climate of Health Care

Chapter 4 Professionalism, Elitism and Health Care

Chapter 5 Ethics and Nursing

Chapter 6 Patient's rights, truth and Consent

Chapter 7 Human Experimentation

Chapter 8 Abortion

Chapter 9 Severely Impaired Newborns, Futility and Infanticide

Chapter 10 Care of the Dying

Chapter 11 Deliberate Termination of Life and Physician Assisted Suicide

Chapter 12 Genetics: Intervention, Control and Research

Chapter 13 Reproduction: Assistance and Control issues

Chapter 14 Ethnicity, Race and Gender issues

Chapter 15 HIV and AIDS: Related Issues

Chapter 16 The Allocation of Resources: Scarcity and Triage

Chapter 17 A Claim of a Right to Health Care

After the first few modules we will start applying the basic principles. With each topic or issue we cover, you will be expected to apply ethical principles and reasoning to ethical problems or dilemmas related to or constituting those issues. Do NOT expect to understand those principles when you first read about them . The meaning of those principles and concepts will become clearer as the course proceeds.

This course is designed with a great appreciation for the wisdom of an ancient Chinese expression.

I hear: I forget.

I see: I remember.

I do : then I understand.

So, you will be expected to attempt to do a little philosophical thinking so that you will understand what philosophy is really all about, what it involves and what it takes to do this sort of thinking.

This point or lesson is really quite simple. If you needed someone to bake a cake for you or repair the carburetor on your automobile, which of the following people would you ask?

a. someone who said : "I heard a lecture on how to do that once."

b. someone who said: " I saw that done once on a tv show and I recorded it on my vcr."

c. someone who said: " I have done that before successfully and I understand how to do it ."

I don't know your answer but I would choose person (c). And so to learn about Philosophy I shall ask you to attempt it yourselves. It could be a lot of un. Lots of people I know really like to get into debates and into questions. Not too many like to give reasons for their positions but that is what Philosophy is about. So you will be expected to learn how to take a position on some issue in BIOMEDICAL ETHICS and to support your position using ethical principles and reasoning.

The course is also, however, whatever you make it. As you complete the module assignments you will have many opportunities to make decisions which will influence the nature and scope of your learning activities. The more energy you put into the course, the more benefit you will derive from it.

Do you want to have a "sneak preview" of how you may do in this course? Rate yourself on a 1 (low) to 10 (High) scale on these 3 questions:

1. How interested are you in learning about ethics and medical ethics? _____

2. How important is it for you to learn this material? _____

3. Based on past experience, how well do you expect to do in the course? _____

Add the three scores together.  Then see below








If your total is 15 - 19, you will probably do OK.

If you scored 20 - 25, you are likely to do better than average.

If you scored 26 or above, I expect you will do exceptionally well in this course.

If you scored 0 - 15, that doesn't mean you are doomed!

But ask yourself "Why am I taking this course?", and if you can't come up with a pretty good answer, you may find yourself putting in too little effort to achieve well.

(Rating scale thanks to William Pelz)



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