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DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Undergraduate Course: Biomedical ethics (PHIL10191)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 10 (Year 4 Undergraduate) AvailabilityAvailable to all students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course examines in depth the field of biomedical ethics. Students will learn several of the most prominent approaches to moral reasoning, and they will examine a variety of central issues in biomedical ethics. These issues may include personal and policy decisions about the end-of-life, abortion, the physician-patient relationship, societal obligations to health care, and the uses and abuses of new medical technology.

Course description This course uses lectures and tutorials to develop students¿ philosophical understanding of ethical issues in biomedicine and healthcare. One part of the course will introduce several of the main approaches to ethical reasoning about these issues; these approaches include views based on consequentialism, deontology, virtue, and a plurality of principles. The other parts of the course will focus on several substantial issues. These may include issues at the end-of-life, such as euthanasia and organ donation; issues at the beginning of life, such as abortion and pre-natal testing; issues of the physician-patient relationship, such as the limits of confidentiality and informed consent; and issues arising from the development of new technologies, such as internal medical devices and genetic therapies and enhancements. Students will articulate views on all of these issues in intensive classroom, and they will explore two of these issues in depth in their written assignments.
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Students MUST have passed: Knowledge and Reality (PHIL08017) AND Mind, Matter and Language (PHIL08014)
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements Students studying on MA Cognitive Science (Humanities) are permitted to take this course without having met the pre-requisites of Mind, Matter and Language (PHIL08014) and Knowledge and Reality (PHIL08014). However, it is advisable that students discuss the suitability of the course with their PT and the course organiser before enrolling.
Information for Visiting Students
Pre-requisitesVisiting students should have completed at least 3 Philosophy courses at grade B or above. We will only consider University/College level courses. Applicants should note that, as with other popular courses, meeting the minimum does NOT guarantee admission. These enrolments are managed strictly by the Visiting Student Office, in line with the quotas allocated by the department, and all enquiries to enrol in these courses must be made through the CAHSS Visiting Student Office. It is not appropriate for students to contact the department directly to request additional spaces.
High Demand Course? Yes
Course Delivery Information
Not being delivered
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. To understand the most prominent approaches to biomedical moral reasoning
  2. To think critically about ethical decision-making in medicine and health care
  3. To analyse and evaluate policies in medicine and health care
  4. To communicate clearly sophisticated philosophical positions on complex ethical issues
Reading List
Representative reading list on representative topics
Ethical reasoning and approaches to biomedical ethics: Beauchamp and Childress, Principles of Biomedical Ethics
End-of-Life: Rachels, ¿Active and Passive Euthanasia¿; Velleman, ¿A Right to Self-Termination?¿
Abortion: Thomson, ¿A Defense of Abortion¿; Marquis, ¿Why Abortion Is Immoral¿
Physician-Patient Relationship: Childress & Siegler, ¿Metaphors and Models of Doctor-Patient Relationships¿; Higgs, ¿On Telling Patients the Truth¿
New Technologies: Mallia, ¿From What Should We Protect Future Generations: Germ-Line Therapy or Genetic Screening?¿; Ten Have, ¿Can the Four Principles Help in Genetic Screening Decision-Making?¿

Additional Information
Graduate Attributes and Skills Enquiry and life-long learning; outlook and engagement; personal and intellectual autonomy; communication
KeywordsNot entered
Course organiserProf Michael Gill
Tel: (0131 6)51 3083
Course secretaryMiss Ann-Marie Cowe
Tel: (0131 6)50 3961
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