Approved by Faculty Senate

University Studies Course Approval:

 

Department Program: Philosophy Department

Course Number: 330

Number of Credits: 3

Course Title: Biomedical Ethics

Catalog Description:

330 - Biomedical Ethics - 3 S.H.

Ethical issues in health care; for example, abortion, termination of treatment, euthanasia, truth-telling and confidentiality, medical experimentation and informed consent, transplant surgery, artificial insemination, surrogate pregnancy, the allocation of medical resources. Offered each year.

This is an existing course that has previously been approved by A2C2.

 

Department Contact Person for this course: Don Scheid

 

Email: descheid@winona.edu

 

Unity and Diversity—Science and Social Policy

 

 

 

BIOMEDICAL ETHICS

PHIL. 330

University Studies—Science and Social Policy

 

 

 

The purpose of the Science and Social Policy requirement in the University Studies program is to promote students' understanding of the interrelated concerns of society and the sciences. These courses should integrate issues related to one of the sciences with the social and government-policy decisions that stem from these issues. Issues might include the environment, genetic testing and mapping, applications of technology, etc. They should be treated from the perspective of the scientific foundations of the problem and address ethical, social, historical, and/or political implications of the issue.

The course, Biomedical Ethics, considers a number of issues that arise in the practice of medicine as a result of new technologies, such as: respirators and other developments, for moral issues of death and dying; artificial insemination, test-tube babies, cloning, genetic testing and engineering etc., for moral issues concerning birth and the creation of life; the pill and RU 486, in connection with moral issues on abortion, etc.

A basic theme of the course is emphasis on the fact that the on-going development of science and technology continually presents medicine and society with new moral and legal challenges.

 

 

These courses should promote students’ ability to:

 

 

"a. understand the scientific foundation of the topic;"

The importance of an accurate understanding of the actual technologies or procedures involved in an issue is emphasized. For example, what are the developmental phases of the fetus and what importance may they have in questions of abortion? What exactly is a so-called "partial-birth abortion," under what circumstances would it be regarded as "medically indicated"? What is the procedure for in vitro fertilization? How is cloning achieved? When is a person in a so-called "persistent vegetative state" and how is it determined? What are the actual conditions of spina bifida and anencehpalia that are believed my many to justify the euthanasia of new borns?

 

 

"b. understand the social, ethical, historical and/or political implications;"

The main thrust of the course is to develop a moral evaluation of each of the issues taken up. There is also discussion of the legal implications of the issues--the advisability of criminalizing or decriminalizing an activity, the advisability of non-criminal regulation, etc. For instance, should the biological father have legal responsibilities for a child created through artificial insemination? Thus, the social, ethical, historical, and political implications of all the courses issues are investigated:

bulletAbortion bulletDefective Infants bulletEuthanasia/Futile Treatment/Death and Dying bulletPhysician-Assisted Suicide bulletReproductive Innovations (artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, surrogate mothers, embryo transfer, cloning) bulletGenetics: Intervention and Control (genetic testing and screening, etc.) bulletAllocating Scarce Medical Resources

 

 

c. "understand and articulate the need to integrate issues of science with social policy;"

One of the many lessons to be learned throughout this course is how paranoid and misdirected social policy can become without the aid of science, and how overconfident and misguided science can become without ethics’ critical review. The current controversy of human cloning illustrates this, for example.

 

 

d. "evaluate the various policy options relevant to the social dilemmas posed by the science;"

One example taken up in detail in this class is: under what conditions should health-care providers be allowed to terminate life-support without incurring criminal liability? Other issues giving rise to what might be called social dilemmas are : abortion, surrogate motherhood, physician-assisted suicide, and the allocation of scarce resources.

 

 

e. "articulate, choose among, and defend various policy and/or scientific options to cope with the challenges created.

This course addresses at least the following issues:

bulletAbortion bulletDefective Infants bulletEuthanasia/Futile Treatment/Death and Dying bulletPhysician-Assisted Suicide bulletReproductive Innovations (artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, surrogate mothers, embryo transfer, cloning) bulletGenetics: Intervention and Control (genetic testing and screening, etc.) bulletAllocating Scarce Medical Resources

By critically examining the current scientific findings on each of these issues and the competing ethical positions on them, the arguments in favor of those positions, and the criticisms of those arguments and those positions, the student is finally in an informed position to advance their own claims and defend them both in class and on their writing projects.

 

 

BIOMEDICAL ETHICS

PHIL. 330

Curriculum, Outcomes, Policies, and Requirements

University Studies—Science and Social Policy

 

 

Syllabus

 

Prof. Scheid T, Th: 2:00-3:20 p.m.

Office: 323 Minn� Hall Minn� Hall 237

Phone: 457-5455

 

This course may be taken to count for a University Studies course under the category of "Science and Social Policy."

 

 

Textbook and Materials

> Ronald Munson (ed.), Intervention and Reflection (Wadsworth; Belmont, CA) 1999.

> Some handout materials will also be provided throughout the semester (no charge!).

 

 

Course and Routine

This is a reading/lecture/discussion type of course. Readings and other assignments will be given on a class-by-class basis. Besides general in-class discussions, we will also have occasional discussion groups in class.

The course, being at the 300 level, is intended for juniors and seniors. According to WSU's Undergraduate Catalog (under Academic Programs, Course Descriptions):

Generally, freshman take 100 level courses, sophomores 200 level, juniors 300 level, and seniors 400 level. Students are required to limit course selection to courses not more than one level above their class standing.

Consequently, freshmen are strongly urged not to take this course.

 

 

Attendance

Attendance is a basic requirement of this course. Participation in class and in group discussions is part of the course. Furthermore, as with most philosophy, the material in this course is best understood, and most easily learned, through discussion.

Accordingly, each student will be allowed three absences for the semester. It is advisable to save these for sickness, or other emergencies. Beyond these three "free" absences, the course grade will be reduced automatically by one third of a letter grade for each absence.

Note that sports activities are not considered "excused absences" any more than outside-work schedules or conflicts with other classes. Those who cannot attend class regularly should definitely consider a different course.

 

Papers

Two short essay papers (4-7 pages) are required for this course. Papers must be typewritten, double-spaced, have a cover sheet, and be stapled in the upper-left corner. Further details on papers will be given later in class.

Papers must, of course, be turned in on the date assigned. Papers that are late by one week or less will be accepted, but the grade for such a paper will automatically be reduced. No credit will be given for papers that are over one week late.

 

 

Examinations

There will be three regular, in-class examinations, including the final examination. The final exam may be somewhat cumulative; but, in any case, the lion's share of the final exam will be on material covered after the previous exam.

Any student who misses an exam must arrange for a make-up exam as soon as possible. It is the student's responsibility to see about arrangements for any make up. Make-up exams will be arranged only for students who have documented, excused absences for the day of the original exam. Make-up exams may be written or oral, at the professor's discretion. Written make-up exams usually include essay questions.

 

 

Course Grade

The final grade for the course will be determined approximately as follows:

Papers: 20%, 20%

Exams: 20%, 20%, 20%

In addition, as a minimum requirement (necessary condition) for passing the course, the student must pass at least one of the exams with a "D" or better and have at least one passing paper. All exams must be taken and both papers must be submitted to receive credit for the course.

 

 

Manners and Decorum

Obviously, talking and other disturbances are not acceptable in class. Other things I find distracting and/or rude include blowing bubble gum, snapping gum, clipping nails, snapping pens, and crinkling food bags and candy wrappers.

 

 

Cheating

Students may discuss paper topics with each other; and, indeed, they are encouraged to do so. Nevertheless, the actual written paper that is submitted for credit must be the work of each individual student alone. Submission of a written assignment by a student shall be understood to carry the student's certification that the work was done by that student alone.

Each student is expected to do his/her own work and only his/her own work on all examinations.

In accordance with the policy of the Philosophy Department, the best any student can expect to get out of this course for cheating is an "F."

 

 

Approximate Schedule of Topics

 

1. Introduction (basic ethics and moral principles will be taken up as we go along).

2. Abortion

3. Defective Infants

4. Euthanasia/Futile Treatment/Death and Dying

5. Physician-Assisted Suicide

6. Reproductive Innovations (artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, surrogate mothers, embryo transfer, cloning)

7. Genetics: Intervention and Control (genetic testing and screening, etc.)

8. Allocating Scarce Medical Resources

 

 

Statement on University Studies Courses

All course activities and assignments simultaneously address all University Studies’ required course outcomes in Biomedical Ethics 330, in the following ways:

The general guidelines for courses designated "Science and Social Policy" under the University Studies program are the following:

 

 

The purpose of the Science and Social Policy requirement in the University Studies program is to promote students' understanding of the interrelated concerns of society and the sciences. These courses should integrate issues related to one of the sciences with the social and government-policy decisions that stem from these issues. Issues might include the environment, genetic testing and mapping, applications of technology, etc. They should be treated from the perspective of the scientific foundations of the problem and address ethical, social, historical, and/or political implications of the issue.

The course, Biomedical Ethics, considers a number of issues that arise in the practice of medicine as a result of new technologies, such as: respirators and other developments, for moral issues of death and dying; artificial insemination, test-tube babies, cloning, genetic testing and engineering etc., for moral issues concerning birth and the creation of life; the pill and RU 486, in connection with moral issues on abortion, etc.

A basic theme of the course is emphasis on the fact that the on-going development of science and technology continually presents medicine and society with new moral and legal challenges.

 

 

These courses should promote students’ ability to:

 

 

"a. understand the scientific foundation of the topic;"

The importance of an accurate understanding of the actual technologies or procedures involved in an issue is emphasized. For example, what are the developmental phases of the fetus and what importance may they have in questions of abortion? What exactly is a so-called "partial-birth abortion," under what circumstances would it be regarded as "medically indicated"? What is the procedure for in vitro fertilization? How is cloning achieved? When is a person in a so-called "persistent vegetative state" and how is it determined? What are the actual conditions of spina bifida and anencehpalia that are believed my many to justify the euthanasia of new borns?

 

 

"b. understand the social, ethical, historical and/or political implications;"

The main thrust of the course is to develop a moral evaluation of each of the issues taken up. There is also discussion of the legal implications of the issues--the advisability of criminalizing or decriminalizing an activity, the advisability of non-criminal regulation, etc. For instance, should the biological father have legal responsibilities for a child created through artificial insemination? Thus, the social, ethical, historical, and political implications of all the courses issues are investigated:

bulletAbortion bulletDefective Infants bulletEuthanasia/Futile Treatment/Death and Dying bulletPhysician-Assisted Suicide bulletReproductive Innovations (artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, surrogate mothers, embryo transfer, cloning) bulletGenetics: Intervention and Control (genetic testing and screening, etc.) bulletAllocating Scarce Medical Resources

 

 

c. "understand and articulate the need to integrate issues of science with social policy;"

One of the many lessons to be learned throughout this course is how paranoid and misdirected social policy can become without the aid of science, and how overconfident and misguided science can become without ethics’ critical review. The current controversy of human cloning illustrates this, for example.

 

 

d. "evaluate the various policy options relevant to the social dilemmas posed by the science;"

One example taken up in detail in this class is: under what conditions should health-care providers be allowed to terminate life-support without incurring criminal liability? Other issues giving rise to what might be called social dilemmas are : abortion, surrogate motherhood, physician-assisted suicide, and the allocation of scarce resources.

 

 

e. "articulate, choose among, and defend various policy and/or scientific options to cope with the challenges created.

This course addresses at least the following issues:

bulletAbortion bulletDefective Infants bulletEuthanasia/Futile Treatment/Death and Dying bulletPhysician-Assisted Suicide bulletReproductive Innovations (artificial insemination, in vitro fertilization, surrogate mothers, embryo transfer, cloning) bulletGenetics: Intervention and Control (genetic testing and screening, etc.) bulletAllocating Scarce Medical Resources

By critically examining the current scientific findings on each of these issues and the competing ethical positions on them, the arguments in favor of those positions, and the criticisms of those arguments and those positions, the student is finally in an informed position to advance their own claims and defend them both in class and on their writing projects.