- Code BIOL3191
- Unit Value 6 units
- Offered by Biology Teaching and Learning Centre
- ANU College ANU Joint Colleges of Science
- Course subject Biology
- Areas of interest Medical Science, Ethics, Biology, Health
Rapid advances in the biosciences, biotechnology and biomedicine represent a challenge to our society and raise some very difficult ethical questions. Since its advent in the mid 20th century the field of bioethics has engaged with such issues and developed a range of responses and proposals. In this course you will consider diverse perspectives through readings, tutorial discussions and lectures.
The kinds of topics we will consider in this course may include: Should vaccination be compulsory or is this an infringement of personal rights? Should we create a market in transplantable organs to save more lives? Can research and experiments on human and non-human subjects be conducted ethically? Is it ethical to edit a baby’s genes? What about the genes of a whole population? Should we let algorithms and artificial intelligence drive our cars, help us make decisions about who to hire, or help us decide who to imprison? Do we owe future generations a liveable planet? Should we seek to enhance human capabilities, such as our cognitive ability, our moral perceptions or our emotions? This course will give you the tools to understand questions like these and to make clear ethical arguments that point to the right course of action. In other words, this course will teach you how to argue well, and how to translate your scientific knowledge into good decisions both for yourself and for society.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Discuss and communicate the science involved in various bioethical debates and the associated social, cultural and political issues.
- Understand and employ a range of approaches to ethical and moral reasoning.
- Identify and evaluate relevant bioethical literature.
- Assess the benefits, risks, and societal & ethical implications of developments in the biosciences, biotechnology and biomedicine.
- Identify and articulate a personal view in the context of bioethical debates.
- Completion of a quiz style assessment (20) [LO 1,2,3]
- Short ethical argument essays (30) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
- Long research essay (40) [LO 2,3,4,5]
- Tutorial discussions, and submission of reflective reports in tutorials (10) [LO 1,2,3,4,5]
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The expected workload will consist of approximately 130 hours throughout the semester including:
- Face-to face component which may consist of approx. 2 hours of lectures plus 1 x 1 hour tutorial per week throughout the semester.
- Approximately 3 hours of assigned reading per week in preparation for the tutorial.
- Either two hours of self directed study in the form of reading, preparing assignments, watching documentaries, or listening to podcasts, or a 2 hour workshop per week.
- Approximately 34 hours of additional self directed study which will include preparing assignments throughout the semester.
Students are expected to actively participate and contribute towards discussions.
To be determined
Requisite and Incompatibility
Tutorials will be based on lectures and weekly readings (articles/book chapters) provided on Wattle. The following books will be drawn on in the first weeks and provide an introduction to (bio)ethics as a disciplined activity, as well as essay writing.
Swartwood J, Stoner I. Doing Practical Ethics. New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press; https://library.anu.edu.au/record=b7144828
Churchill LR. Ethics for Everyone: A Skills-Based Approach. Ethics for Everyone. Oxford University Press; 2020 https://library.anu.edu.au/record=b7101908
Weston, A. A rulebook for Arguments, Fifth Edition. 2017. Hackett publishing, USA. https://library.anu.edu.au/record=b5803517
This ebook is available to read online, for free, from the ANU library.
Tuition fees are for the academic year indicated at the top of the page.
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- Unit value:
- 6 units
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