PHIL 242 A: Introduction to Medical Ethics

Meeting Time: 
TTh 1:00pm - 2:20pm
JHN 075
Carina Fourie
Carina Fourie

Syllabus Description:

Welcome to the course!


Lectures: Tue & Thu, 1.00-2.20pm JHN 075


Lecturer: Carina Fourie. Office Hours: Wed 3.00-5.00pm; Savery Hall, 389.  

QSI for AA & AC: Jon Rosenberg. Office Hours: W&F 1.30-2.30pm; The Big Table (by Savery Hall, 372).

QSI for AB & AD: Michael Esveldt. mesveldt@uw.eduOffice Hours: M 10.30-11.30am & Th 11.30am-12.30pm; The Big Table (by Savery Hall, 372).      

For the full syllabus including the course overview, please download the PDF: Syllabus



Required for the class:

1. Arguing about Bioethics (2012) Stephen Holland (ed.). Routledge. Available from the UW Bookstore. A copy will also be available on 4-hour reserve at the Odegaard Library.

2. Poll Everywhere Device (e.g. laptop, tablet, phone). If you do not have access to a device, please borrow one from UW Student Technology Loan:



Syllabus & Guidance

Week 1: Introduction

Week 2: The Selection & Enhancement of Offspring

Assignment 1 - Central thesis & argument summary

Week 3: Informed Consent

Week 4a: Relational autonomy & the role of the family in decision-making

Assignment 2 - Objection and Response

Week 4b: Shared decision-making, refusing treatment & compulsory treatment

Week 5a: Shared decision-making, refusing treatment & compulsory treatment (continued)

Week 5b: Acquiring organs for transplant

Week 6a: When are you dead?

Assignment 3 - Short paper

Week 6b: Physician-assisted suicide

Week 7: Access to healthcare & the social determinants of health (SDOH)

Week 8 (a): Access to healthcare & SDOH (continued)

Week 8 (b): Bias, Discrimination & Incentives in the Clinic

Assignment 4 - Full Paper

Week 9 (a): Bias, Discrimination & Incentives in the Clinic (continued)

Week 9 (b): Revision & Exam Guidance

Week 10: Cross-Cultural Bioethics

Final Exam


Additional Details:

Who should decide what is best for the patient? What role should a patient’s family play in decisions about treatment? How should we distribute scarce health care resources fairly? What is genuine informed consent and why might it be ethically required? Health care workers, such as physicians and nurses, will be confronted by many moral challenges during their professional practice. This course provides a philosophical introduction to medical ethics aimed at developing students’ abilities to recognize and assess moral conflicts and challenges pertinent to clinical practice. The course also provides an introduction to how to evaluate the wider ethical context in which clinical decisions are made, such as identifying whether or not the health care insurance system is just. Students will also learn how to write philosophical papers about medical ethics. Topics covered include the right of patients to refuse treatment, the acquisition of organs for transplant, the implicit biases of health care professionals, and the Affordable Care and Patient Protection Act.

TEXT: Arguing about Bioethics, Stephen Holland, ed. Additional course materials will be available on Canvas.

Catalog Description: 
Introduction to ethics, primarily for first- and second-year students. Emphasizes philosophical thinking and writing through an in-depth study of philosophical issues arising in the practice of medicine. Examines the issues of medical ethics from a patient's point of view.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Visual, Literary, and Performing Arts (VLPA)
Writing (W)
Last updated: 
October 17, 2018 - 9:09pm