Skip to main content

Instructor: Gerard Rothfus. This course meets TR 8:00 – 9:15 a.m. in PH 328.

This course surveys (some of) the rich field of contemporary bioethics, with an emphasis on examining controversies in modern medicine surrounding the making and taking of life. Students will wrestle with classic philosophical questions like when and why is killing wrong?, what responsibilities do potential parents have with respect to potential offspring? what is the nature and significance of bodily autonomy?, what moral rights do non-human animals possess?, etc., and then consider how different answers to these questions bear upon topics as significant and contested as the ethics of abortion, euthanasia, reproduction, and using animal subjects in medical research.

The objective of the course is to equip students to think critically and thoughtfully about the nature and demands of human morality as they pertain to questions involving the making and taking of life. Note that the course expectation will not be that we achieve consensus/agreement on any of the contentious moral issues we discuss, but rather that we succeed in thinking through different perspectives together in a clear, rigorous, and charitable way.

Assessment will occur via short reading responses and two longer essay projects. There is no required text for the course; all readings will be made available via the course site.


Have registration questions? Our PPE Administrators can help! Please email them at for assistance.