The University of Massachusetts Amherst

"Medical Ethics": Philosophy 164 (Gen Ed AT) Fall 2022

Students will live together in Cance Hall in the Southwest residential area. 

Read what Fall 2022 instructor Emilia Miller has to say about the course:

Outside of class you will be asked to engage carefully with readings. During class, be prepared to participate in lively discussions where we will engage with these pressing issues as viewed through a philosophical lens. Health and healthcare are topics that are integral parts of our lives. Often healthcare issues are straightforward. Yearly physicals, sports medicine, and age-related concerns are all commonplace and ethically unambiguous. However, there are equally commonplace medical topics that do raise ethical concerns. These may include, but are not limited to: 

  • End of life care and decisions 
  • The relationship between ability, disability, and the health care system 
  • The perception and treatment of mental health conditions in medicine 

Medical ethics addresses these and other issues from philosophical perspectives that engage with medical research and lived experience. This course will consist of four major units. In the first unit we will examine issues relating to death and medical practice. Next, we will investigate the concepts of health, disease, and disability. Then we will critically examine psychiatric medicine and the concept of mental health. In the final unit we will engage with issues relating to public health. Students will explore these issues through class discussion, reflection on real life cases, short essays, and a final presentation. 

"Medical Ethics": Philosophy 164 (Gen Ed AT) Fall 2022

Students will live together in Kennedy Tower in the Southwest residential area. 

Read what Fall 2022 instructor Cruz Davis has to say about the course:

Medical theories and practice play a central role in much of our lives. Preventing disease and death, augmenting health and prolonging life seem to lie at the heart of medical theory and practice. This plays out in the remarkable treatments of various diseases through the creation of new vaccines, surgical techniques, and other methods of treatment. Given the centrality of medicine to our lives, it is important to turn a philosophical eye to issues concerning medical concepts, what knowledge medical research can provide, and the ethical issues that arise in the context of medicine. Specific questions we will examine include: 

  • What are health and disease? Is there even one correct conception of these concepts or are there many equally good ways of characterizing them? 
  • Can we get objective results of medical research? 
  • What sorts of values guide our medical research?  
  • How should we distribute our medical resources amongst those who need them? Should some people take priority over others? 
  • What should the doctor-patient relationship look like? 

 This course is designed around these three goals: 

  • Students will develop a philosophical toolkit to guide them to think clearly and independently.  
  • Students will become familiar with important contemporary literature on these topics. 
  • Students will acquire a general background in the ethical theories at play behind various answers to these questions. 

Perspectives in Health Topics RAP