Philosophy of Medicine (PHIL*2030)
Term: Fall 2014
The philosophical area of bioethics is concerned with applied ethical issues that arise out of the practice of medicine and research on the physiology of human beings. This introduction to bioethics will ask ethical questions concerning such issues as abortion (including selective abortion), active and passive euthanasia, research on human subjects, the physician-patient relationship and medical confidentiality (including issues that arise in multicultural societies), decisions concerning the allocation of life sustaining treatment, informed consent, truth-telling, conflicts of interest, the role of the family in medical decision-making, embryonic stem cell research, genetic screening, genetic enhancement, human cloning, and issues concerning justice in health care distribution, patient rights, and societal obligations in the practice of medicine. In the course of examining each issue, we will also discuss such theoretical issues as the scope and limits of autonomy and individual liberty, the ethics of cost/benefit analyses, and the difference between rule and act utilitarianism. This is a course in ethics not biology, but in the course of our study, we will discuss human physiology to the extent that it is required to understand the ethical issues. We will also examine selected case studies. In the course of our study, we will discuss specifically Canadian legal precedents and the ethical justification for a single-player government-sponsored health care system.
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