FA20 PHIL403

PHIL403: Medical Ethics
Cami Koepke
online  ·  MonWed  ·  12:30pm–1:45pm

This course involves a careful examination of timely questions in contemporary medical ethics such as:  

How should limited medical resources be distributed in a pandemic?
Should people be held responsible for bad health outcomes that result from personal decisions?
When is it permissible to force someone to undergo a health treatment?
Should testing be offered for diseases that lack symptoms or treatments?
Do sperm or egg donors incur any obligations on account of donating genetic material?
Is it a moral duty to do things that are inconvenient or even potentially dangerous if they promote The health of others (e.g. getting vaccinated, wearing face masks, etc.)?
Should embryos be treated or enhanced if the technology is available?

To answer these questions, this course will take a deep dive into normative considerations that bear on practical medical decision-making. We will read about how ethical theories, and how these theories might inform practical principles in clinical and research medicine. We will also explore philosophical topics such as the difference between doing harm and allowing harm; the distinction between therapy and enhancement; the relationship between consent, agency and paternalism; the nature of procreative obligations; and the bounds of personal moral responsibility.

This course is suited for students willing to think critically about difficult moral questions in medicine. No prior experience with philosophy or medicine is required, although advanced students in both areas will get the chance to expand their knowledge and sharpen their analytical skills in discussion and writing. Be prepared for challenging readings that require focus and attention and for weekly writing projects and an original term paper.