NOTE: For a pdf version of the syllabus, click here
Nancy S. Jecker, PHD
Professor, UW School of Medicine
Department of Bioethics & Humanities
Office: Health Sciences Bldg. A204P
Office Hours: By appointment
Website: UW Faculty Website
(1) Demonstrate basic knowledge of distributive justice theories
(2) Identify connections between theories of justice and health care rights
(3) Distinguish implicit and explicit forms of health care rationing
(4) Critique ethical positions and understand their strengths and weaknesses
(5) Understand future challenges facing the U.S. health care system
(6) Appreciate the social and cultural assumptions underlying moral judgments
MEETINGS: In-class meetings will generally be held Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:30-4:20 pm, in HSB BB-1602. Since the class combines in-person & online learning, we do not meet in person every week. Refer to the daily schedule below for additional information.
DESCRIPTION: The course examines the ethical problem of allocating scarce health care resources. Our emphasis throughout is on fundamental principles of justice that support alternative health policies. The first part of the course introduces theories of justice, and considers the support these theories lend to the idea of a right to health care. The second section considers healthcare rationing, including rationing based on a patient's ability to pay; likelihood, length, or quality of medical benefit; social value; and age. We also consider criteria of random selection; first come, first served; and favored group status. The final part of the course explores future challenges facing the U.S. and global healthcare system, including ensuring quality, containing costs, improving access, and meeting the needs of a rapidly aging societies.
REQUIREMENTS: Undergraduates are required to take 2 in-class examinations, participate in 3 in-class group assignments, and complete 10 online quizzes. Course grades for undergraduates are based on the following:
- Examinations: 100 points each, total 200 points, 50% of grade
- Group Projects: 33/34 points, total 100 points, 25% of grade
- Quizzes: 10 points each, total 100 points, 25% of grade
Graduate students are required to complete the same assignments, and to complete an 8-10 page research paper dealing in more depth with one of the topics discussed in class. Paper proposals must be approved by the instructor and draft papers must be reviewed by peers. Final papers submitted to the instructor will be screened using the online plagiarism prevention and detection tool, VeriCite.
Course grades for graduate students are based on the following:
- Examinations:100 points each, total 200 points. 40% of grade
- Group Assignments: 33/34 points, total 100 points, 20% of grade
- Quizzes: 10 points each, total 100 points, 20% of grade
- Paper: 100 points each, 20% of grade
EXTRA CREDIT: Unannounced one-minute papers may be assigned during class. One extra credit point will be available per paper. Extra credit points earned will be added to your final class grade.
UW, Student Academic Responsibility Policy
BH Department, Academic Conduct Policy (includes disability accommodation)
BH Department, Grading Policy
Instructor, Late Assignment Policy
Instructor, Vericite Policy
Instructor, Missed Class Policy
(Offered jointly with BH 474A/574A) This course examines the ethical problem of allocating scarce health care resources. Our emphasis throughout is on fundamental principles of justice that support alternative health policies. The first part of the course introduces students to several influential theories of justice, and considers the support these theories lend to the idea of a right to health care. The second section turns to consider alternative approaches to rationing health care. We examine arguments for and against rationing based on a patient's ability to pay; likelihood, length, or quality of medical benefit; social value; and age. We also consider the criteria of random selection; first come, first served; and favored group status. In the final section of the course, we discuss recent U.S. health care system reform. All readings are from contemporary philosophy and medical ethics literature. There are no prerequisites, but a previous course in ethics, medical ethics, or social philosophy is recommended.
TEXT: Journal articles from the course website.