PHIL 242 A: Introduction to Medical Ethics

Autumn 2023
TTh 1:00pm - 2:20pm / SMI 120
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):



Lecturer: Carina Fourie, (kuh-REE-nah fuu-REE), she/her pronouns

Teaching Assistants: Melissa Diamond (she/her pronouns), Daniel Galley (he/him pronouns), Sam Sandoval (they/them pronouns)

Contact Information: Please contact all instructors using CANVAS INBOX

Class schedule & locations

Lectures: TTH 1-2.20pm SMI 120.

AA: MW 8:30–9:20am SAV 157
AC: MW 9:30–10:20am MGH 242
AD: MW 10:30–11:20am MGH 228
AE: MW 11:30–12:20pm SAV 162
AF: MW 12:30–1:20pm SAV 162
AG: MW 12:30–1:20pm SAV 130

Office hours: 

Carina's Office Hours: Wed 2-3pm on Zoom (Meeting ID: 460 391 6611); Thu 3-4pm in SAV 389

Daniel's Office Hours: Friday 9-11am on Zoom (see 'Zoom' tab on Canvas for link) 

Melissa's Office Hours: Thursday 10am-12pm on Zoom (Meeting ID: 981 327 8833)

Sam's Office Hours: Tuesdays and Thursdays 10am-11am on Zoom (Meeting ID: 306 761 6330)

What are “office hours”? Office hours are time that instructors set aside especially for students. Students are encouraged to attend office hours, for example, to ask clarifying questions about course material and get extended feedback on completed assignments.

What is the course about?

The course provides a philosophical introduction to medical ethics aimed at developing students’ abilities to recognize and assess moral conflicts and challenges pertinent to medical practice. It also provides an introduction to ethical issues related to the wider social context in which clinical decisions are made, such as the health care system, the social determinants of health and structural racism. Additionally, students will learn how to write applied philosophical papers. Topics covered include the ethical issues associated with physician truth-telling; prenatal testing and selection; disability rights; genetic editing; informed consent; the role of the patient's family; abortion; Medicare for All; care for transgender patients; brain death; and racial inequities in health.

The central goals of the course aim to help you acquire:

  • Content knowledge of concepts and debates central to medical ethics. (Reinforced and assessed through written assignments; participation; take-home exam)
  • Skills of conceptual and normative analysis relevant for assessing the ethics of medical practice and policies. (Reinforced and assessed through written assignments; participation; take-home exam)
  • Skills of oral communication relevant for expressing and assessing ethical perspectives in impromptu and informal settings. (Reinforced and assessed through participation)
  • Enhanced philosophical reading, analysis, argumentation and writing skills. (Reinforced and assessed through written assignments; participation; take-home exam)

Course Overview

Class Resources

Writing Resources

Sep. 27-28: Welcome

Oct. 2-9: Introduction to Moral Theories, Principles, & Truth-Telling

Oct. 10-18: Prenatal Testing, Selection & Editing

Oct. 19-30: Informed Consent, Autonomy & Family-Centered Care

Oct. 31-Nov. 6: Death

Nov. 7-12: Abortion

Nov. 13-Dec. 8: Just Health & Healthcare and Revision

Finals Week

All readings are available on Canvas under the relevant module. Readings are preliminary; they may be added, removed, or replaced.

Assignments & grading: Summary

We are committed to helping you learn how to read and write papers on applied ethics, and to develop skills for discussing medical ethics topics. To facilitate this, we use evidence-based active learning in lecture and discussion, and numerous low stakes, scaffolding assignments. Active learning is an instructional approach in which students actively participate in the learning process, as opposed to sitting quietly and listening. Low stakes, scaffolding assignments help you to build, develop and refine the skills you are learning in the course.

Your final points total will be out of 100:

  • Essays: 45 points
  • Take-Home Exam: 15 points
  • Participation in Section: 24 points
  • Poll Everywhere: 12 points
  • Syllabus quiz: 4 points

Points will be converted to a grade on the 4.0 scale (We reserve the right to adjust the final grade).

Passing grade: To pass the course your final total grade must be a pass (0.7) AND you must complete the requirements for the Writing Credit. 

If you are unable to attend quiz sections or lectures regularly, or if you are unable to make deadlines for assignments, please contact your instructors ASAP to avoid grade penalization. For further details, refer to the document “Assignments & Grading’” available on Canvas Modules under “Class Resources”. Please read this document before you submit any assignments.

Class expectations & environment

  • Read through the syllabus and “Assignments and Grading” documents in full.
  • Read all the assigned readings and complete the homework (before QS/lecture).
  • Attend and participate in lecture and in quiz section (unless you are feeling ill, or have another good reason you cannot attend).
  • During lecture and quiz section you should not be using electronic devices for anything except class-related work. Class-related work includes accessing poll everywhere, making notes or accessing readings. 
  • Follow all COVID-19 and public health protocols (see the section "COVID-19 protocols" for details).
  • Keep up to date with materials, messages, announcements, deadlines, and any other course related materials on Canvas.
  • Complete all the assignments, quizzes and assessments including the exam on time.
  • Proactively let Carina and/or your TA know if you are unable to fulfill any of the above expectations, so that potential alternatives can be identified.
  • Practice academic honesty. Dishonesty in polls, participation, assignments or the exam will lead to grade penalization and may lead to disciplinary action. Using AI to complete homework or assignments is academic dishonesty. Answering lecture polls questions without being physically present in lecture is also academic dishonesty. More information on plagiarism detection software, AI, and the Department of Philosophy’s policies on academic misconduct are provided below.
  • Follow the community norms for lecture and QS. We will develop these norms together in the first weeks of class.

Access & accommodations

Your experience in this class is important to your instructors. If you have already established accommodations with Disability Resources for Students (DRS), please communicate your approved accommodations to Carina at your earliest convenience so you can discuss your needs in this course.

If you have not yet established services through DRS, but have a temporary health condition or permanent disability that requires accommodations (conditions include but are not limited to: mental health, attention-related, learning, vision, hearing, physical or health impacts), you are welcome to contact DRS at 206-543-8924 (Voice & Relay) or or DRS offers resources and coordinates reasonable accommodations for students with disabilities and/or temporary health conditions. Reasonable accommodations are established through an interactive process between you, your instructor(s) and DRS. It is the policy and practice of the University of Washington to create inclusive and accessible learning environments consistent with federal and state law.

Undocumented students

Your instructors are committed to working with and for undocumented students. Resources and further information are available for you here. Please feel free to speak to Carina and/or your TA about any additional help you may need due to your undocumented status or its implications. 

Multilingual learners (MLL)

If you would like to improve your speaking, reading or writing in English, consult the English Department’s webpage for a list of resources. 

Health, wellbeing & COVID-19 protocols

For resources on health and well-being, including mental health and possibilities for counseling, please consult the UW’s website Husky Health and Wellbeing . For urgent support such as mental health crisis services, please consult the Urgent Help webpage. Call 911 in an emergency.

To prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, follow this advice:

Use of plagiarism detection software notice

The University has a license agreement with SimCheck, an educational tool that helps prevent or identify plagiarism from Internet resources. PHIL 242 Instructors use this service by requiring that assignments are submitted electronically to be checked by SimCheck. The SimCheck Report will indicate the amount of original text in your work and whether all material that you quoted, paraphrased, summarized, or used from another source is appropriately referenced. 

Please consider submitting your essay well before the deadline so that, if needed, you are able to revise your essay taking account of the SimCheck report. We will not grade your paper until it is accompanied by a SimCheck report. 

Use of ChatGPT and other AI Tools

Your work in this course - homework, essays and any other written work - must be produced by you and you alone. You may not use ChatGPT or other AI Tools to generate written work for this course. Failure to comply may lead to grade penalization and disciplinary action. 



Academic misconduct, including plagiarism, is prohibited by the Student Conduct Code for the University of Washington and is taken very seriously by the UW. According to the student conduct code, academic misconduct includes:
1.    "Cheating" which includes, but is not limited to:
a.    The use of unauthorized assistance in taking quizzes, tests, or examinations, or completing assignments;
b.    The acquisition, use, or distribution of unpublished materials created by another student without the express permission of the original author(s);
c.    Using online sources, such as solution manuals, without the permission of the instructor to complete assignments, exams, tests, or quizzes; or
d.    Requesting, hiring, or otherwise encouraging someone to take a course, exam, test, or complete assignments for a student.
2.    "Falsification," which is the intentional use or submission of falsified data, records, or other information including, but not limited to, records of internship or practicum experiences or attendance at any required event(s), or scholarly research.
3.    "Plagiarism," which is the submission or presentation of someone else's words, composition, research, or expressed ideas, whether published or unpublished, without attribution. Plagiarism includes, but is not limited to:
a.    The use, by paraphrase or direct quotation, of the published or unpublished work of another person without full and clear acknowledgment; or
b.    The unacknowledged use of materials prepared by another person or acquired from an entity engaging in the selling of term papers or other academic materials.
4.    Unauthorized collaboration.
5.    Engaging in behavior specifically prohibited by an instructor in the course of class instruction or in a course syllabus.
6.    Multiple submissions of the same work in separate courses without the express permission of the instructor(s).
7.    Taking deliberate action to destroy or damage another's academic work in order to gain an advantage for oneself or another.
8.    The recording of instructional content without the express permission of the instructor(s), unless approved as a disability accommodation, and/or the dissemination or use of such unauthorized records.
(Source: WAC 478-121 - Academic Misconduct)
Plagiarism may lead to disciplinary action by the University against the student who submitted the work. Any student who is uncertain whether his or her use of the work of others constitutes plagiarism should consult the course instructor for guidance before formally submitting the course work involved.


Incomplete grades may only be awarded if a student is doing satisfactory work up until the last two weeks of the quarter and has furnished proof satisfactory to the instructor that the work cannot be completed because of illness or other circumstances beyond the student’s control. (Sources: Office of the Registrar – Incomplete Grades), UW General Catalog, Student Guide – Grading System) 


A student who believes that the instructor erred in the assignment of a grade, or who believes a grade recoding error or omission has occurred, shall first discuss the matter with the instructor before the end of the following academic quarter (not including Summer Quarter). If the student is not satisfied with the instructor’s explanation, the student, no later than ten days after their discussion with the instructor, may submit a written appeal to the chair of the Department of Philosophy with a copy of the appeal also sent to the instructor. The chair consults with the instructor to ensure that the evaluation of the student’s performance has not been arbitrary or capricious. Should the chair believe the instructor’s conduct to be arbitrary or capricious and the instructor declines to revise the grade, the chair, with the approval of the voting members of his or her faculty, shall appoint an appropriate member, or members, of the faculty of the Department of Philosophy to evaluate the performance of the student and assign a grade. The Dean and Provost should be informed of this action. Once a student submits a written appeal, this document and all subsequent actions on this appeal are recorded in written form for deposit in a School file. (Source: UW General Catalog, Student Guide – Grading System)


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If you have any concerns about a teaching assistant, please see the teaching assistant about these concerns as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with the teaching assistant or not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the instructor in charge of the course. If you are still not satisfied with the response that you receive, you may contact the chair of the program offering the course (names available from the Department of Philosophy, 361 Savery Hall), or the Graduate School at G-1 Communications Building (543-5900).


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University rules define scientific and scholarly misconduct to include the following forms of inappropriate activity: intentional misrepresentation of credentials; falsification of data; plagiarism; abuse of confidentiality; deliberate violation of regulations applicable to research.

Students can report cases of scientific or scholarly misconduct either to the ORMP, to their faculty adviser, or the department chair. The student should report such problems to whomever he or she feels most comfortable. 
(Sources: Executive Order No. 61 – Research Misconduct Policy; Office of Research Misconduct Proceedings; minutes of Grad School Executive Staff and Division Heads meeting, 7/23/98.)


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If you're concerned, tell someone.
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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 Met:
Social Sciences (SSc)
Arts and Humanities (A&H)
Writing (W)
Last updated:
April 13, 2024 - 8:23 am