Note: This course is currently scheduled for synchronous online instruction.
Medical Ethics (PHIL403 Section 03)
Tuesdays & Thursdays · 2:00pm–3:15pm · online
This course involves a careful examination of timely questions in contemporary medical ethics such as:
- How should limited medical resources be allocated?
- 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?
- When is it permissible for medical providers to deny requests for a medical intervention, such as an abortion or a prescription for Plan B?
- Should research subjects get paid a market rate?
- 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 morally permissible for medical providers to lie to patients?
- Should embryos be treated or enhanced if the technology is available?
To answer these questions, this course will take a deep dive into the normative considerations that bear on practical medical decision-making. We will learn about how ethical theories and principles might inform decisions and actions 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 complicated relationship between consent, agency and paternalism; the nature of procreative obligations; and the bounds of personal moral responsibility.
This course is suited for any 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.