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Home > Campuses & Centers > Annandale > Biomedical Ethics class offered

Biomedical Ethics class Offered

PHI 227: Bio-Medical Ethics course taught by Dr. Rafayel Seyranyan is offered this second 8-week session. This class will introduce students to traditional and contemporary controversies in the fields of biology and medicine.

Course Description
The Biomedical Ethics class is designed to introduce students to traditional and contemporary controversies in the fields of biology and medicine. We begin with an introduction to the feature and nature of philosophical and ethical inquiry examining the classic ethical models that will frame our discourse and debate.  This is important because it will create the common framework from which we can examine controversies in a civil, respectful and open manner. Issues like abortion, animal rights in research, or cloning can trigger heightened emotions and anxiety as they often are tied to strong political and/or religious values or personal experiences. Therefore, it is essential to understand that this class is NOT intended to promote a specific viewpoint or agenda. Nor is this class the place to promote specific religious or political beliefs—although they may be considered as part of an individual’s personal ethical framework. We are simply examining the controversies around both traditional and cutting edge biomedical issues in order to gain insight into the nature of critical analysis and how to use classical ethical theories to help reach a resolution to the dilemmas.  How do we do this? By encouraging an open discussion utilizing case studies or movies so that opposing views can be probed and challenged for philosophical and logical consistency. By using classic ethical theories such as  Utilitarian and Deontological, and the alternative concepts of Virtue Ethics, Feminism, Ethics of Care and Relativism, we will embark on a journey down the river of life, navigating through the rapids of pre-conception and genetic manipulation, drifting by paternalism, physician/nurse relationships and patient rights, rowing through abortion, stem cell research, and cloning, going over the falls into end of life issues, and then coasting into healthcare reform.

Course Objectives
By the end of the semester, students should be able to:

  • Identify and discuss different ethical theories (Utilitarian and Deontological) and concepts (e.g., Virtue Ethics, Feminism, Ethics of Care and Relativism.)
  • Understand the issues involved in each topical area (such as abortion, new reproductive technologies, genetic engineering and enhancement, end of life decisions, et cetera.)
  • Articulate the reasoning for his or her specific views within specific ethical theories and concepts
  • Tolerate diverse views and opinions in the search for greater understanding

Course Highlights
Because Biomedical Ethics is an ever changing and developing field, we need to have both a strong framework of theory along with an awareness of how the issues are manifesting in contemporary society. Thus, this class is dynamic and many of the assignments will require personal reflection, interaction with classmates, and attentiveness to the world around you.

Sample assignments:

  • Develop your own personal living will.
  • Report (both oral and written) on 5 news items that exemplify current  examples of an ethical controversy
  • Work together on a group report on a cutting edge issue (e.g., cosmetic surgery, obesity, bio-terrorism, et cetera).
  • Watch feature films (from a list provided) and discuss/review the ethical dilemmas that are portrayed