Biomedical Ethics in the 21st Century
CORE 390 - 06A: SPRING 2007
INSTRUCTOR: Dr. Henry Jakubowski
READING MATERIAL (required)
- Elements of Moral Philosophy, 5rd Ed. James
Rachels, Stuart Rachels, McGraw-Hill, 2007
- The Ethical Brain. Michael Gazzaniga. Dana
- Smart Mice, Not-So-Smart People: An Interesting and Amusing
Guide to Bioethics
- Additional materials available on the web, through email, or on
reserve at the libraries
TIME/PLACE: 11:20 PM- 12:30 PM;
Days 2-4-6. ASC 121
OFFICE: ASC 245
OFFICE HOURS: 11:00
am-12:00 pm, Days 2-4-6; I am also available by appointment and/or through
TOPICS - Below is a list of potential topics that we will discuss in this course.
- theories of moral philosophies
- cell biology, molecular biology and the human genome project
- Where they are and where they're going.
- medical diagnosis, treatment, and prevention in the
- biomedical ethical issues resulting from advances in modern
- gene therapy of somatic cells
- gene therapy of germ cells
- stem cell therapy
- xenotransplants of cells and organs from other species to humans
- immunization for disease prevention
- use of performance enhancing drugs
- use of mood and cognitve-altering psychotropic drugs
- biomedical ethical issues resulting from changes in health
- access to biomedical information
- insurance coverage and your DNA sequence
- gatekeeping of health care by HMO's
- disease prevention in underdeveloped parts of the world
- use of alternative therapies in the post-genomic era
The Guidelines for Senior Seminar in Exploring the Human Condition: Guidelines for a Joint
state that give the student:
- an understanding of the role that empirical information plays in
justifying moral judgment
- an ability to sort relevant form irrelevant data
- an understanding of relationships
- an ability to assess the cogency of arguments
- an appreciation of the implications of claims
- an ability to analyze concepts
- an appreciation of and ability to use contextual thinking
- an ability to image vividly the impact of events and decisions upon
the needs, perceptions, and desires of others.
- an appreciation of emotions ion the decision making process
- an ability to identify and assess normative components of issues
- an ability to clarity the relationship between an issue and
ones own values.
Many of these can be summarized in the first
objective below. The main objectives of this course are to:
- increase your critical thinking skills of students
as you explore moral questions arising from scientific and medical breakthroughs that have
the potential to revolutionize human health care and human potential.
- help students better articulate and substantiate,
through discussion and writing, their own views about these moral questions.
In order to analyze, synthesize and evaluate complex
situation, students must first learn relevant facts and ideas, translate them in
meaningful ways, interpret information by forming relationships among different ideas, and
apply their understanding to new problems. Any topics could be used to
facilitate the acquisition of critical thinking skills, but you will apply our new skills to an
understanding of biomedical issues. It is impossible to develop logical and morally
defensible ideas without understanding the basic information of a field. You
need content to develop and defend your ideas. Hence, another objective of this
class is to:
- learn, translate, interpret, and apply an
understanding of major moral philosophies and of the new methods to diagnosis, treat, and
prevent disease based on availability of the human genome to the complex ethical questions
of medical care in the 21st century.
I will post additional readings and possibly have electronic discussion forum
using a program called Moodle.
To access Moodle
from the CSB/SJU homepage, click the links to "Current
Students", then "Web-Based Courses." In the large gold box, click the link to
You can access Moodle directly by going to
Login with your regular campus network ID and password. On the list of available courses, click the title of the course you want to
The schools have strict policies concerning plagiarism. To
discourage plagiarism, all papers so specified must be submitted in both print and
emailed versions. The email version will facilitate search of potentially
sections of a paper against appropriate web and CD databases. The policies of the
institution regarding plagiarism will be strictly enforced. It may lead to failure in
the course, and possible dismissal from CSB/SJU.
GROUP WORK - Learning Through Discussion (LTD)
Most of our class will involve small and large group discussions of
assigned reading. In LTD, you must first relate what the author stated, apply what
you learned to other situations, and then evaluate the new ideas. These steps
involve memory, analysis, synthesis and evaluation. We will follow a specific format
for LTD which will follow a specific thee-part plan. The LTD plan was taken from the
book, Learning Through Discussion, 3rd. edition, by Rabow et. al.(1994), which is
- 20% class participation. See descriptions of
- 20% exam 1. This will cover theories of moral
philosophies, cell biology, molecular biology and the human genome project, and medical
diagnosis, treatment, and prevention in the post-genomic era
- 20% quizzes, computer discussion forums, written summaries
for class participation, short position papers
- 20% research project: presentation
- 20% research paper
All papers must be done on a word processor and submitted
in print form. When requested, an email form of the paper will also be required.
The papers should have correct grammar, spelling, and punctuation. If not,
the grade for the paper will be decreased.
GUIDELINES FOR PARTICIPATION
One days of discussion of assigned readings,
everyone is expected to bring a discussion outline to class. In addition, the
following characteristics will be observed to determine the extent of your participation:
- Miss three classes, maximum grade B
- Miss four classes, maximum grade C
- Miss five classes, maximum grade D
- Miss six or more classes, maximum grade F.
High level: Have the characteristics of a medium
level of participation and in addition:
- You lead discussions
- You incorporate and help extent the comments of others in class
- You challenge in a respectful way the ideas of others while admitting
to the limitations of your own view
- You bring to discussion relevant ideas, news, and questions not
derived from the class readings or discussions
- You are prepared for class discussion. Evidence of this includes
notes on text or written questions which you would like addressed in class discussion
- You answer questions by referring to assigned written material.
- Your answers are meaningful and relevant.
- You are willing to express your personal opinions and biases as part
of the overall discussion
- You ask thoughtful questions.
- Offer facts that are relevant but dont explain how.
- Offer little extension beyond a simple comment of your ideas
- Offer ideas tangentially related to the reading and discussion
FINAL PRESENTATION AND PAPER
This will include a presentation and a
10-12 page paper focusing on a specific, modern biomedical ethics issue.
The presentations are scheduled from April 11 - May 7. The final paper is
due on May 1. For some of you that will be before your presentations, and
for others, after.
Detailed Information on
CHANGES IN COURSE/SYLLABUS
I reserve the right to change the course and syllabus during the
semester to accommodate changes in the course that I deem necessary to improve it.
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