The University of Massachusetts Amherst

"Medical Ethics": Philosophy 164 (Gen Ed AT) Fall 2019

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

Read what Fall 2019 instructor Andrea Wilson has to say about the course:

The structure of this course will be comprised of reading, discussing, debating, and writing to better understand particular issues in medical ethics and to develop our capacities as critical thinkers. We’ll think about questions like: What makes something count as a reason for doing or believing something?  Is it ever okay to have an abortion? What does it mean to have a disability, and what obligations does society have toward those who have them? And how we do we decide who should get the kidney transplant when two people need it to survive but there’s only one kidney?

Some of the goals for this course include:

  • learning to distinguish between good and bad arguments 
  • developing our ability to articulate our own views 
  • learning about some of the most important and plausible ways of responding to certain moral questions
  • thinking about how the material from this course is relevant to other courses and our lives in general

We’ll work toward these goals by carefully engaging with reading assignments; providing written responses to these readings; and doing a lot of discussing and debating!

"Medical Ethics": Philosophy 164 (Gen Ed AT) Fall 2019

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

Read what Fall 2019 instructor Ryan Olsen has to say about the course:

One can't escape questions about health and medicine. We (and everyone we care about) were conceived and birthed, we get sick and (hopefully) recover, and eventually, we will die. And at every step of the way, our health and the medicine used to manage it affect our lives.

This course focuses on moral issues arising from medical practice and biomedical technology. Medical decisions are often morally complex, making it difficult to decide what is right (and what is wrong) to do. It is imperative, then, to think clearly through different ethical issues that medical decisions present, so that we can make defensible choices. Topics covered in this class may include:

  • Is abortion morally permissible? 
  • Do we have a right to die? Is it permissible for a doctor to kill a patient if she is asked to?
  • What bodily differences should be considered medical problems?
  • When is medical research exploitative? And how does this question intersect with issues of inequality?
  • When, if ever, is genetic modification morally permissible?

Together, we'll do three things: we'll explore questions like these; we'll consider some proposed answers and arguments for and against them; and finally, we'll work together to evaluate and articulate which answers we think are best and why. Along the way, students will develop their abilities to reason cogently and express themselves clearly---two essential skills for college and beyond, whatever one's pursuits.

Perspectives in Health Topics RAP