Postgraduate Course: Fundamentals in Bioethics (LAWS11397)
|School||School of Law
||College||College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
|Credit level (Normal year taken)||SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate)
||Availability||Not available to visiting students
|Summary||This course serves as a foundation for critical engagement with the core elements of bioethics and of doing bioethics.
It will introduce students to three pillars of rigorous bioethical analysis: (i) concepts, (ii) theories, and (iii) robust argumentation. It will equip students with the skills to develop and defend ethical arguments, and to apply these to legal, regulatory and policy issues in health and biomedicine.
Week 1: Introducing the ethical toolbox
Introducing the importance of the three pillars of good bioethical reasoning (i) the skills of sound argumentation (ii) the importance of conceptual clarity (iii) the relevance and limitations of ethical theory.
Week 2: Who matters? The significance of moral status
Examining the question of what kinds of beings are the proper object of moral concern and introducing the concept of personhood.
Week 3: What makes human life worth living?
Comparing a range of accounts that seek to characterise what wellbeing or a worthwhile life consist in and highlighting the different perspectives from which this question may be approached.
Week 4: Is there a moral difference between killing and letting die?
Exploring the distinctions between acts and omissions and their moral (ir)relevance
Week 5: Introducing theories about what makes something good or right
Introducing the core precepts of the most prominent ethical theories (e.g. utilitarianism, deontology etc.) and critically engaging with the limits of the use of theory in practical bioethics
Week 6: Why worry about justice?
Highlighting the increasing importance of political philosophy in bioethics, through key questions of fairness, and justice. We will ask: what does it mean to live in a fair society? What would be a fair approach to the distribution of health/healthcare?
Week 7: What is autonomy and does it matter
Introduction to theories of autonomy and the limitations of autonomy a guiding principle
Week 8: No person is an island? Who else matters?
Broadening the ethical lens to look beyond individual interests and actions to explore the ethical significance of living and acting within groups, communities, states.
Week 9: To what extent am I my body?
Encouraging students to think critically about the ways in which we are and are not our bodies and the extent to which a worthwhile life or good outcomes are synonymous preserving a healthy or normal body.
Week 10: What should I do?
Consolidating the preceding sessions, this final class will turn to what is often seen as the central focus of ethics, the morality of actions. Having had the prior discussions, students will be better equipped to critically consider the rightness and wrongness of actions, as well as the limits to such an account of ethics.
Course Delivery Information
|Academic year 2020/21, Not available to visiting students (SS1)
|Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info)
Seminar/Tutorial Hours 20,
Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4,
Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours
|Assessment (Further Info)
|Additional Information (Assessment)
||This course will be assessed by means of a 4000 word essay, which is worth 100% of the overall course mark.
||Students will have the opportunity to obtain formative feedback over the course of the semester. The feedback provided will assist students in their preparation for the summative assessment.
Feedback on the formative assessment may be provided in various formats, for example, to include written, oral, video, face-to-face, whole class, or individual. The course organiser will decide which format is most appropriate in relation to the nature of the assessment.
Feedback on both formative and summative in-course assessed work will be provided in time to be of use in subsequent assessments within the course.
Feedback on the summative assessment will be provided in written form via Learn, the University of Edinburgh's Virtual Learning Environment (VLE).
|No Exam Information
| Demonstrate critical understanding of the principal concepts, theories, and methods of bioethical reasoning and argumentation.
|Core texts will include chapters from:|
Hope, R. A., Tony Hope, Julian Savulescu, and Judith Hendrick. Medical ethics and law: the core curriculum. Elsevier Health Sciences, 2008.
Kuhse, H., & Singer, P. (Eds.). (2010). 'A companion to bioethics: second edition'. John Wiley & Sons. (Available as an e-book from University of Edinburgh library.)
Kuhse H , Schueklenk U and Singer P. 2010, 'Bioethics: An Anthology', Wiley Blackwell. (Available as an e-book from University of Edinburgh library.)
Rachels, J. The Elements of Moral Philosophy (4th ed.), McGraw-Hill, Boston 2003.
Ashcroft, Richard Edmund, Angus Dawson, Heather Draper, and John McMillan, eds. Principles of health care ethics. John Wiley & Sons, 2007. (not available as an e-book)
|Graduate Attributes and Skills
||Deal with complex issues and make informed judgements in situations characterised by dilemmas and
plurality of values.
Identify, conceptualise and analyse ethical problems and issues.
Communicate ethical ideas and positions, appropriately and effectively, using a variety of methods, and to a range of audiences, taking into account the complex and sensitive nature of many bioethical topics.
|Keywords||Ethics,Bioethics,Level 11,Postgraduate,LLM,Medical Law,Medical Ethics
|Course organiser||Ms Emily Postan
|Course secretary||Ms Ruth Johnston
Tel: (0131 6)50 9094