doc and patient.jpg you call this a syllabus, Smillie?

PHIL 208
Carroll College

MWF, 10:00-10:50, Rm 101 O'Connell

Dr. Mark Smillie
Carroll College

This syllabus has been updated for Fall, 2005.


Bioethics studies the reasonableness of human choices and actions that typically occur in medical practice, such as end-of-life decision-making, but our consideration will extend to other areas where human life and health are involved, such as artificial reproduction, research ethics, cloning, and stem cell research. This course begins with a brief overview of ethics, and them moves to develop and consider the moral values and principles relevant to medical practice and bioethics. The course aims to consider the defense of general views on the moral values involved in bioethics, as well as the complicated issues of applying this general knowledge to particular situations. The course hopes to develop moral wisdom (knowledge about ethics and the ability to think ethically) and moral virtue (a stronger commitment to act morally).

Topics included in our study are: the nature of the Doctor-Patient Relationship, principles of Patient Decision-Making, Life-Sustaining Treatments (including CPR, and medical nutrition and hydration), Reproductive Issues (including contraception, artificial reproductive technologies, abortion), arguments for Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide, and Research Ethics (including a consideration of the Stem Cell controversy).


The three general goals of this course are:


Students taking this course will learn to


There is no course prerequisite for Bioethics. The course begins with a general though short introduction to ethics. Prior Ethics courses could certainly be a beneficial as a preparation for this course. Some interest in medicine and medical issues is presumed by the course, and prior pre-medical courses and/or experience with medical practice would aid a student in this course.


WRITTEN WORK (40% of final grade). Includes:
a. One written analysis of an argumentative/theoretical article from Hastings Center Report available in the library. This will be due Monday, June 13.
b. Three (3) other written essays, either case studies or argumentative essays on bioethical issues, assigned throughout the course.

EXAMINATIONS (40% of final grade)
a. Short in-class quizzes. Six offered, one will be dropped. These are quizzes on our readings, consisting of short answer questions (on definitions) and multiple-choice questions on our readings. Study guides for these will be provided on the webpages. See course schedule for dates of these quizzes. Together, six quizzes are worth 25% of the final course grade.
b. A final exam. On the last day of class, July 7. The final exam is cumulative and is worth 15% of the final course grade.

PARTICIPATION AND CLASS WORK (20% of final grade). Participation in class and completion of short in-class exercises. It makes better sense to have more discussion, and this will take the place of the weekly quizzes that usually schedule in larger courses. All I want is a regular amount of involvement in the class, summarizing sections of text (I will assign an equal number to everyone), asking questions, answering questions, offering comments, viewpoints, relevant experiences and observations, analyzing cases. Some of these will also require a written component. All of this will require adequate and regular preparation for class. Regular and consistent discussion of ethics and ethical issues helps to clarify your own thinking, to sharpen your reasoning skills, and to bring out the different legitimate ways of approaching ethical issues. It’s a good thing; it’s a good preparation for your later careers in hospitals, with patients, and coworkers who may not understand or agree with your view of things.



Below 60=F
P/F Grade=D

Grading in this class: Philosophy classes do not grade the students on whether or not they accept the views of a philosopher or not. Grading is an evaluation of a student's understanding of particular philosophical concept or view-as that is expressed by the student in either written or oral form. This is an evaluation of how adequately the student expression expresses the original, without simply repeating it. When a student is asked to assess a view, the evaluation considers the reasonability of the assessment-the argument presented, the relevancy of the reasons offered in support of these assessment, and their sufficiency for supporting the assessment in question.

Course Policies: See button above.


Available in the bookstore:

Raymond J. Devettere, Practical Decision Making in Health Care Ethics 2nd Edition. Washington, D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2002. (ISBN 0-87840-763-4).

Weston, Anthony. A Rulebook for Arguments, 3rd Edition. Hackett, 2000. ISBN 0-87220-552-5


Encyclopedia of Bioethics. Warren T. Reich, Editor.  Volumes 1-5.   Georgetown University Press. 1995.  REF QA 332 .E52 1995 v1-5.  An excellent, up-to-date, encyclopedia with containing articles on many of the issues in Bioethics.

Bibliography of Bioethics. LeRoy Walters, Tamar Joy Kalin, Editors. Volumes 1-21. Kennedy Institute of Ethics, Georgetown University. REF R 724 .B53, v1-21.  A yearly compilation of articles on bioethics from various sources.  For research, you'll want to look at this early, as some of the articles may have to be ordered by inter-library loan!

Hastings Center Report. (R724 .H) Library subscribes to this journal, which is an excellent source of bioethical articles and discussion. It is also available over the EBSCO host.

Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal. A scholarly forum for diverse views on major issues in bioethics. Library has an internet subscription, which can be accessed from the library machines.

Bioethics for Beginners

This page was last edited August 19, 2005