(Updated July 2017)

This module will introduce students to a wide range of philosophical questions that are raised by everyday medical practice and recent developments in medical science. It will show how the resources of moral philosophy and philosophy more widely can help us to develop a better understanding of these questions, and enable us to critically assess the ways in which these issues are currently dealt with. The exact range of topics addressed will vary from year to year. Amongst the issues explored in this module will be questions of life and death, questions raised by bringing people into existence (reproductive medicine, cloning etc.), just resource allocation (between patients and on the level of healthcare budgets), the ethics of medical research, the ethics of confidentiality, informed consent and patient autonomy, the ethics of enhancement, and the future of human nature. Finally, this module will familiarise students with Foucault's notion of "biopolitics" and explore its relevance for developing a critical understanding of the context in which medical-ethical questions arise.


By the end of the module, students should be able to:
* identify the ethical and philosophical issues raised by a selection of medical matters.
* explain the debates concerning these issues
* critically assess the merits of the conflicting arguments.

Students should also have acquired a set of transferable skills, and in particular be able to:

* define the task in which they are engaged and exclude what is irrelevant;
* seek and organise the most relevant discussions and sources of information;
* process a large volume of diverse and sometimes conflicting arguments;
* compare and evaluate different arguments and assess the limitations of their own position or procedure;
* write and present verbally a succinct and precise account of positions, arguments, and their presuppositions and implications;
* be sensitive to the positions of others and communicate their own views in ways that are accessible to them;
* think 'laterally' and creatively - see interesting connections and possibilities and present these clearly rather than as vague hunches;
* maintain intellectual flexibility and revise their own position if shown wrong;
* think critically and constructively.