Bioethics (Fall 2010)


PHIL 261-01 | ID 10825 | TR 10:00-11:50 | Room: Fogarty 213 | Fall 2010


Is medical research on human subjects a form of exploitation? Should people be allowed to sell their organs? Is abortion murder? What about euthanasia? Should we treat depression with drugs? Just what is a mental disorder? Are psychopaths morally responsible? These are a few of the question that we will explore in this class. This is just a small sample of the issues discussed in bio-medical ethics.

This course is not designed to provide decisive answers to all the tough problems that face health professionals. Rather, the principal goal of the course is to improve our ability to think critically about moral problems. We will see to what extent it is possible to provide reasons for considered moral judgments.

About half of the course is devoted to theoretical issues concerning the status and content of morality. Before tackling our first moral problem, we will begin with a critical assessment of moral relativism. Then we will discuss the two leading kinds of moral theory: consequentialism and deontology. Later in the semester, before we discuss abortion we will ask about the relationship between morality and religion.

In addition to the core issues of human subject testing, organ selling, abortion, and euthanasia, at the end of the semester we will explore some of the fascinating problems in the recent field of neuroethics. Here we will ask about the nature of mental illness, the responsibility of psychopaths, and the morality of anti-depressants.


Midterm Exam

Final Exam