GPH-GU 1005: Advanced Introduction to Bioethics (3 credits, Fall)
This seminar is intended to introduce students to the central methods and concerns of contemporary bioethics. We will consider topics including the grounds for respecting human (and other) life, the concepts of well-being and autonomy, decisions about future people, and justice in distribution of scarce medical resources. Students will develop familiarity with these concepts as well as the conventions and standards of bioethical debate.
GPH-GU 1230: Advanced Introduction to Public Health Ethics (3 credits)
This course examines the ethical foundations of public health and ethical issues that arise in the context of public health work. Topics will include, for example, balancing individual autonomy and community health, rights to health and healthcare, culturally respectful global health interventions, and the risk of generating stigma through public health campaigns. We will also discuss the ethics of public health research, exploring topics such as privacy considerations in data gathering and informed consent in a community health context.
GPH-GU 1006: Advanced Introduction to Environmental Ethics (3 credits, Spring)
This course situates theoretical developments in practical ethics broadly and in environmental ethics specifically. The course builds on the theoretical materials by examining a series of cases including ethics and agriculture, corporate responsibility and environmental injustice, and the environmental health consequences of war.
GPH-GU 1165: Research Ethics: Human Subjects (4 credits)
This course will begin by examining the historical scandals that launched the field of human subjects research ethics and the principles and regulations that have emerged in reaction. The next part of the course will focus on the interpretation, justification, and especially the critical evaluation of these principles and regulations, both in domestic contexts and international contexts. In the final part of the course we will examine the use of animals in research and evaluate several moral critiques of our current practices. Among the questions to be addressed in the course: is it permissible to deceive subjects when necessary to obtain valid results; is it permissible to use a placebo control when proven effective care for the condition exists; should we be more liberal about enrolling children, the cognitively impaired, and pregnant women in risky research; are there any reasons to limit payment for participation in risky research; is there an obligation to participate in research; are animals models useful; how much weight if any should be assigned to the interests of non-human animals relative to the interests of humans.
GPH-GU 2222: Clinical Ethics (4 credits)
Physicians, nurses, and/or ethicists will present each week, for discussion and theoretical analysis, ethical issues that they encounter in their work. Topics include the ethics of using placebos, conflicts of interest and clinical trials, ethics consultations in health care, pain management and end of life, incapacity and surrogate decision-making, balancing patient well-being with patient choice, and reconciling individual with public health. Readings will be drawn from medical and philosophy literature. Students will form Mock Ethics Committees and analyze clinical cases as an actual Hospital Ethics Committee would, and students will also have the opportunity to visit and participate in Hospital Ethics Committees. By the end of the course, students will learn about ethical issues arising out of clinical settings and how to think through these issues.
GPH-GU 2026: Neuroethics (4 credits)
Neuroethics has two branches: the neuroscience of ethics and the ethics of neuroscience. The former is concerned with how neuroscientific technologies might be able to shed light on how we make moral decisions, as well as on other philosophical issues. The latter is concerned with ethical issues raised by the development and use of neuroscientific technologies. Topics include whether neuroscience undermines deontological theories; whether our moral reasoning is inherently biased; whether there is a universal moral grammar; the extended mind hypothesis; the ethics of erasing memories; the ethics of mood and cognitive enhancements; “mind‐reading” technologies; borderline consciousness; and free will and addiction.
GPH-GU 1225: Democracy and Scientific Expertise (3 credits)
In a democratic society, policy is set by the public and its representatives. But making good policy sometimes requires scientific expertise that the public lacks. Certain contentious topics, such as climate change and evolution are marked by a significant gap between scientific consensus and public attitudes, with many people unwilling to trust scientific findings. This course will begin with a brief exploration of core ideas from democratic theory, before focusing on tensions between the value of democracy and the value of scientifically-based policy. Drawing on examples from recent U.S. politics, we’ll consider philosophical work on the possible sources of these tensions, individual responsibilities in light of them, and structural approaches to addressing them.
GPH-GU 1210: Justice in Health and Healthcare (3 credits)
This course surveys philosophical theories of justice, applying them to
population bioethics with a particular focus on environmental health justice. Case studies will include environmental racism and injustice in the United States as well as environmental and global justice dimensions of climate change, food systems, pollution, and infectious disease.
GPH-GU 1008: Topics in Bioethics – Controversies and Politics (4 credits)
While medicine may aspire to objectivity, it remains a human practice that is often shaped by our personal values and political commitments. In this course, we will examine some of the ways in which medicine is ‘value-laden’, and in which our political commitments may inform our medical practices. We will ask questions like: how do we define health and disease? How do we draw the line between mental illness and mere mental difference? What role should a medical professional’s personal values play in their practice? Should doctors have a right to refuse to perform medical procedures that violate their personal moral commitments? To what extent should medical systems accommodate patients’ religious and cultural practices? We will address these questions, among others, by reading work from philosophy, political theory, and by examining case studies.
GPH-GU 1008: Topics in Bioethics – Body Parts: The Ethics of Organ, Tissue, and Cell Transplantation (4 credits)
Three main issues related to organ transplantation include the fundamental morality of transplanting body parts, the ethics of organ procurement, and the ethics of allocation. Does organ transplantation involve too much control of nature, and lead to scenarios of “playing God”? The technological and medical advancements associated with organ transplantation have saved the lives of many, but scarce organ resources have contributed to many social issues regarding allocation. There are over 100,000 candidates on the waiting list in the United States, and the organ supply is scarce. Who should get the available organs, and by what criteria should this decision be made?
GPH-GU 1008: Topics in Bioethics – Reproductive Ethics (4 credits)
The course will examine ethical issues that arise in reproductive medicine and women’s health. Specifically, we will address ethical questions that arise in the context of providing assisted reproduction services and family planning services. Possibly topics to be explored include genetic pre-implantation screening and the ethical considerations involved in deciding which genetic interventions are morally permissible.
GPH-GU 1008: Topics in Bioethics – Creating Persons (4 credits)
This seminar will examine conceptual and ethical issues arising from the ways in which we are able to create and recreate human persons. We will start with the most obvious sort of person-creation: biological reproduction and the selection of future people. We will then consider childhood development and the roles of education and enculturation in shaping the values that constitute personal identity. And we will consider how social practices and emerging biotechnologies allow us to recreate ourselves and others throughout the human lifespan. Our focus will be on the tension between moral respect for autonomy and the extraordinary power to (re)create autonomous persons.
GPH-GU 1008: Topics in Bioethics – End of Life (4 credits)
We do not live in a just world. Hundreds of millions of people lack even the most rudimentary medical care. Billions more receive a standard of care much lower than that available to most citizens in developed countries. Meanwhile, the developed world employs the global poor as research subjects, reproductive surrogates, and even sometimes as repositories for spare parts. This class seeks to diagnose these injustices, so as to better understand their implications for global public health policy and practice. How should health resources be distributed, globally? Is there a human right to health? How, if at all, can transactions between the very rich and the very poor be free from oppression and exploitation? What institutional changes would be required to eliminate, or at least ameliorate, global health injustice? How can well-meaning health-care NGOs and medical professionals avoid or reduce complicity in injustice, as they try to help those most in need?
GPH-GU 1220: Controversies and Ethics (4 credits)
Bioethicists are centrally concerned with matters of public controversy and political debate. What difficulties and responsibilities does this fact entail for the practice of bioethics? In this seminar we will examine several controversial bioethical issues. Our focus will not be on the arguments themselves, but on what we should make of the fact that they are controversial. Should bioethical inquiry take account of intractable moral disagreement? What are the distinctive roles of religious and secular perspectives in public debate? Can bioethicists legitimately claim authoritative expertise in a democracy? We will address the questions by reading work from philosophy and political theory, and also through case study of historical and contemporary issues including: the removal of homosexuality from the DSM, the ‘Philosophers’ Brief’ on assisted suicide, and the regulation of new gene-editing technology.