PHIL 441 A: Public Health Ethics

Winter 2024
TTh 12:30pm - 2:20pm / SAV 130
Section Type:
Syllabus Description (from Canvas):

Public Health Ethics

Winter 2024: PHIL 441

Instructor: Carina Fourie

Contact Details: Contact me on Canvas Inbox

Class times & location: TTH 12.30-2.20pm in SAV 130

Office hours: M 1.30-2.30pm ZOOM (Meeting ID: 460 391 6611); TH 3-4pm SAV 389

An illustration of faces in a crowd.

A central ethical value of public health is social justice. Yet, the different ways in which social justice and injustice can be theorized are often neglected in public health. A focus of this course will be critically reflecting on which theories of social injustice should underlie public health and health equity. This will include considering how values influence the sciences of public health and impact, for example, definitions of health and the presentation of research. In conjunction, we will examine central ethical questions associated with HIV-AIDs, racial inequities in health, responsibility for health, ableism, multispecies justice, and pandemics, among other topics.

Learning outcomes:

  • Understanding key concepts and debates central to public health ethics. 
  • Disembedding and assessing assumptions that underpin popular, scientific and philosophical debate about public health.
  • Analyzing and assessing philosophical texts and arguments.
  • Verbally communicating philosophical ideas clearly and concisely with peers.
  • Writing short philosophical analyses and arguments clearly and methodically. 

Note, you cannot learn these skills unless you attempt to complete the work yourself. Please do not use AI, such as ChatGPT, to help you write your assignments. You will not be able to achieve the learning outcomes if you do so!

Overview of topics:

Course Materials

Materials for the course will be made available on Canvas (especially under “Modules”). Please ensure that you check Canvas regularly or set up notifications in such a way that you keep up-to-date with any announcements, readings, assignments, discussions, and so on.

Grading for Undergraduates

The final grade you will receive depends on two aspects:

  1. The additive total: You will receive points that add up to 100.
  • Essays: Maximum points available, 60
  • Participation & Reading Responses: Maximum points available, 36
  • Syllabus & Assignments Quiz: 4 points

Your final score will be converted to a grade on a 4.0 scale, as long as you also fulfil the writing credit requirements.

  1. The writing credit requirements: 

As successfully completing this course automatically leads to a writing credit, additional writing requirements need to be achieved in order to receive a passing grade and one that matches the additive total. For full information on these requirements and more generally on grading, please read the additional information in the document entitled “Assignments and Grading” in the “Getting Started” Module, as well as the details under the “Assignments” sections in Canvas (as these become available).

Graduate Philosophy Students

For graduate philosophy students, your grade will be based on points out of 100 converted to a 4.0 scale. The primary assignment for the course will be a 4000-5000 word term paper with a deadline in finals week. You will also be assigned points for participation and writing practice, and for at least one of the following: (1) a long abstract of your draft term paper and/or (2) a full draft term paper. If there is more than one graduate student in the class, you will also be expected to complete a review of a peer’s abstract. Please contact me to discuss your assignments in more detail.

Community Norms

To be developed in Weeks 1 & 2.

Course Participation

This course requires in-depth discussion and engagement with the readings and with other students' experiences and perspectives. For this reason, you are expected to attend and participate in all classes, (unless you have a pressing reason not to, such as that you are feeling ill). Missing the occasional class will not make any difference to your grade; however, missing several classes could make a difference. If you are unable to attend regularly, e.g. due to caregiving responsibilities, a mental health condition, or prolonged illness, I can make accommodations and provide you with alternatives-please contact me as soon as you can to make these arrangements. I am very happy to provide accommodations, however, it is up to you to contact me to discuss the alternatives, or to arrange for me to be contacted by someone else, such as Disability Resources for Students (DRS). If you do not do so, and do not do so in a timely manner, your points for participation could be affected. For information on disabilities' access and accommodations, please see below, under “Access and Accommodations”.  See also, the “Assignments and Grading” document for information on reading responses.

Access & Accommodations

Your experience in this class is important to me. 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.

Health & Wellbeing

For resources on health and well-being, including mental health and possibilities for counseling, please consider contacting the UW Wellness Center or Hall Health. For UW protocols and resources about COVID-19, see below.

(UPDATED) COVID-19 Protocols

Let's work together to keep each other safe!

Undocumented Students

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

Multilingual Learners (MLL)

I am committed to supporting multilingual learners, some of whom may not feel as comfortable speaking, reading or writing in English than in other languages. Academic support and non-academic support are available on the UW website. Please feel free to talk to Carina at office hours or by appointment for additional support and guidance.

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 as you will be able to see the report generated by SimCheck once you submit your essay, and if needed, you can revise it. I cannot grade your paper until it is accompanied by a SimCheck report. 

Use of Artificial Intelligence

You are not permitted to use Artificial Intelligence, such as ChatGPT, to help you write or to complete your assignments. Using AI in this way will interfere with the development of the skills you are supposed to be developing and refining in the course.



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)


If you have any concerns about a philosophy course or your instructor, please see the instructor about these concerns as soon as possible. If you are not comfortable talking with the instructor or 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).

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).


The University of Washington reaffirms its policy of equal opportunity regardless of race, color, creed, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, disability, or status as a disabled veteran or Vietnam-era veteran in accordance with University of Washington policy and applicable federal and state statutes and regulations.


Sexual harassment is defined as the use of one’s authority or power, either explicitly or implicitly, to coerce another into unwanted sexual relations or to punish another for his or her refusal, or as the creation by a member of the University community of an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working or educational environment through verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. 

If you believe that you are being harassed, seek help—the earlier the better. You may speak with your instructor, your teaching assistant, the undergraduate advisor (363 Savery Hall), graduate program advisor (366 Savery Hall), or the chair of the philosophy department (364 Savery Hall). In addition, you should be aware that the University has designated special people to help you. For assistance you may contact: SafeCampus; Office of the Ombud (339 HUB, 206-543-6028); Title IX Investigation Office (for complaints that a University student has violated the sexual misconduct provisions of the Student Conduct Code); University Complaint Investigation and Resolution Office (for complaints concerning the behavior of University employees, including faculty, teaching assistants, and other student employees).


The Office of Research Misconduct Proceedings (ORMP) coordinates the University’s handling of allegations of research misconduct against members of the University community, in consultations and cooperation with the University’s schools, colleges, and campuses.

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.)


Preventing violence is everyone's responsibility. SafeCampus is the University of Washington’s Violence Prevention and Response Program. They support students, staff, faculty, and community members in preventing violence. SafeCampus staff will listen to your concerns and provide support and safety plans tailored to your situation. Caring, trained professionals will talk you through options and connect you with additional resources if you want them.
If you're concerned, tell someone.
•    Always call 911 if you or others may be in danger.
•    Call 206-685-SAFE (7233) to report non-urgent threats of violence and for referrals to UW counseling and/or safety resources. TTY or VP callers, please call through your preferred relay service.
•    Don't walk alone. Campus safety guards can walk with you on campus after dark. Call Husky NightWalk 206-685-WALK (9255).
•    Stay connected in an emergency with UW Alert. Register your mobile number to receive instant notification of campus emergencies via text and voice messaging. Sign up for UW Alert online.
•    For more information visit the SafeCampus website.


Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW’s policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy ( Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form (


Any student who has difficulty affording groceries or accessing sufficient food to eat every day, or who lacks a safe and stable place to live and believes this may affect their performance in the course, is urged to contact the UW Any Hungry Husky Program. Any Hungry Husky provides hunger relief free of judgment or stigma. Go to  for information about the food pantry and food security grants. In addition, UW offers emergency aid for students experiencing unexpected financial hardships that may disrupt their education or get in the way of completing their degree. Go to for more information about how to apply.


Faculty members at U.S. universities – including the University of Washington – have the right to academic freedom which includes presenting and exploring topics and content that other governments may consider to be illegal and, therefore, choose to censor. Examples may include topics and content involving religion, gender and sexuality, human rights, democracy and representative government, and historic events.

If, as a UW student, you are living outside of the United States while taking courses remotely, you are subject to the laws of your local jurisdiction. Local authorities may limit your access to course material and take punitive action towards you. Unfortunately, the University of Washington has no authority over the laws in your jurisdictions or how local authorities enforce those laws.

If you are taking UW courses outside of the United States, you have reason to exercise caution when enrolling in courses that cover topics and issues censored in your jurisdiction. If you have concerns regarding a course or courses that you have registered for, please contact your academic advisor who will assist you in exploring options.=

Catalog Description:
An in-depth study of the philosophical issues arising in the practice and policy of public health. Material consists mainly of texts from philosophy and ethics, but, due to the course's interdisciplinary nature, also includes papers from epidemiology, newspaper articles, and current public health regulations and campaigns.
GE Requirements Met:
Social Sciences (SSc)
Writing (W)
Last updated:
February 24, 2024 - 12:31 pm