Applied Ethics (PHIL*4310) | College of Arts

Applied Ethics (PHIL*4310)

Term: Winter 2016


There is a growing body of literature concerning “markets” in human body parts and services (kidneys, surrogacy, prostitution, stem cells, ova, sale of organs harvested from cadavers). This literature intersects with bioethics insofar as it concerns the morally legitimate treatment and use of the human body. But it is different from the traditional bioethics issues, such as genetic screening, abortion, or euthanasia. This developing area of biopolitics does not concern the rightness or wrongness of a given medical procedure. Instead, this literature asks about the moral legitimacy of “markets” with respect to the human body (its parts and functions).

For example, this literature asks whether surrogacy contracts can be legitimate if it is hard to predict how a woman will feel about surrendering the infant she has gestated. It asks whether markets in kidneys can be legitimate if sale of a kidney is almost always coerced by adverse economic circumstances. It asks how governments should regard a market in ova, given the invasiveness of the process of ova extraction (and the situation of dire economic need of most of the donors). How should governments regard prostitution? Should there be a market in sperm? Should stem cells be available for purchase?

This advanced seminar in feminist ethics will survey this growing area of scholarship, as well as its intersection with standard ethical theories. This area of applied ethics also uses a notion of “intrinsic value”, an idea which we will examine at length.


Required Texts:

Photocopy packet and materials from electronic journals on ereserve


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