Philosophy of Medicine (PHIL*2030) | College of Arts

Philosophy of Medicine (PHIL*2030)

Code and section: PHIL*2030*01

Term: Fall 2021

Instructor: Maya Goldenberg


This course will be delivered in a blended format with scheduled virtual lectures on Mondays and Wednesdays 2:30-3:20 pm, and in-person seminars as listed on WebAdvisor.

Course Synopsis:

Few would dispute the claim that medicine warrants philosophical analysis. A medical licence imbues health professionals with significant authority and influence over their patients’ lives, raising a host of ethical issues. Some of the procedures within medical practice, like euthanasia and abortion, are so controversial that it is rarely obvious how healthcare ought to be practiced. And even among acceptable practices, like treating infection or preventing morbidity, disputes over the best way to achieve these goals (“best practices”) often hinge on philosophical disagreements about fundamental concepts like “health” and “disease”, and the standards for reliable research evidence.  

This course involves intensive philosophical analysis of these sorts of metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical problems in medicine and healthcare. We will pay particular attention to how our thinking in one area impacts our analysis of the others. Some of the more abstract issues will be grounded in concrete cases about the complex care of elderly patients, homeopathy, international medical research, medical assistance in dying, and more. 

The University of Guelph resides on the land of the Between the Lakes Treaty No. 3, the territory of the Mississaugas of the Credit. This land is part of the Dish with One Spoon, a covenant between Indigenous nations to live peaceably on the territories of the Great Lakes region. We recognize that today this gathering place is home to many First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples and acknowledging them reminds us of our collective responsibility to the land where we learn, live and work.