Jun 03, 2023  
2023-2024 Undergraduate Academic Catalog 
2023-2024 Undergraduate Academic Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

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PHL 3103 - Bioethics

3 lecture hours 0 lab hours 3 credits
Course Description
This course introduces students to some of the central ethical issues in health care, biomedical research, and related areas of the life sciences. Students will explore topics in bioethics as they arise in the context of relevant professional areas-such as nursing, medicine, scientific research-as well as topics concerning the broader social implications of health care and biomedical practice and the ethical challenges they raise. A central theme running throughout this course is the relationship between ethical theory, on the one hand, and the actual practices and experiences of facing choices about health and mortality, on the other. Students will study several bioethical challenges faced by ordinary people, including those raised by commercial surrogacy, reproductive technology, confidentiality, informed consent, advance directives, euthanasia, and mental health. As students explore these issues, they will consider the more abstract philosophical questions they raise, just as they will consider how actual practical challenges serve as crucial “test cases” for ethical theories. By critically engaging with these topics and cases interactively, students will gain competence to pursue continued, independent reflection on bioethical concerns and to apply the guiding ethical principles that emerge to their own professional and personal lives. This course meets the following Raider Core CLO requirement: Demonstrate Ethical Understanding. (prereq: none)
Course Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  • Demonstrate knowledge of existing ethical issues in health care, biomedical research, and related areas of the life sciences
  • Anticipate ethical issues arising from emerging trends and technologies in health care, biomedical research, and related areas of the life sciences
  • Identify the philosophical bases for bioethical concerns
  • Exhibit familiarity with and understanding of established ethical frameworks, concepts, and principles within ethical theory
  • Connect those theoretical frameworks, concepts, and principles to applied issues
  • Use those theoretical resources to help understand and resolve the applied issues while at the same time scrutinizing the theoretical principles by evaluating their real-world implications
  • Engage in independent ethical reasoning on novel problems using theoretical and practical ethical resources learned
  • Foster ethical behavior and integrity in one’s professional and personal life using the theoretical and practical resources learned

Prerequisites by Topic
  • None

Course Topics
  • Ethical frameworks, concepts, and principles (consequentialism, deontology, rights, etc.)
  • Truth-telling and confidentiality
  • Paternalism and beneficence
  • Informed consent and respect for patient autonomy
  • Reproductive ethics (e.g., “savior siblings,” commercial surrogacy, abortion, conception through anonymous gamete donation)
  • Ethics of disability (e.g., theories of disability, accounts of well-being, the cochlear implant debate)
  • Ethical dimensions of mental health and psychological disorders (e.g., addiction and moral responsibility)
  • Ethics of genomic editing and genetic engineering
  • Ethics of active and passive euthanasia
  • Ethics of advance directives
  • Ethics of research on human subjects
  • Ethics of resource allocation and rationing
  • Public health ethics (e.g., ethics of vaccination mandates, “immunity passports”)

Dr. Andrew McAninch

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