Bioethics (PHIL 165)

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Instructor: Yujia Song. This course meets Monday – Friday from 9:45 AM – 11:15 AM in Caldwell 103.

The 2011 sci-fi movie, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, raises interesting but difficult questions: What is it to respect the autonomy of patients with Alzheimer’s disease? Is it ethical to conduct medical experiments on non-human animals? Under what conditions is medical research involving human subjects morally justified? Should we be concerned with the distinction between gene therapy and genetic enhancement?

In this course, we will explore these and other pressing ethical problems arising from medical science, health care, and biotechnology, through the application of moral theories and methods of moral reasoning. The four key elements of the course are: concepts, principles, issues, and cases. We will first familiarize ourselves with the core concepts in bioethics such as life, death, health, rights, and dignity; as well as the core principles such as autonomy, beneficence, utility, and justice. With these “tools” in hand, we will delve into a range of issues, including informed consent, human subjects in research, experimentation with animals, euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, gene therapy, and health care. We will discuss real life cases both as a way to better appreciate the complexities of the issues, and also to apply and test our understanding of the concepts and principles.

Since the course covers material that is not only relevant to students preparing for the medical profession, but to all who seek to think more systematically about the ethical problems related to the field, it is suitable for anyone who has an interest in bioethics, be it professional interest, personal, or intellectual.

Yujia Song’s webpage