This program includes an extensive curriculum in bioethics education. Students are introduced to the ethical issues that arise in genetics counseling in a seminar series on Ethical Responsibility of Genetic Counselors. Later they participate in two semester-long seminars, Professionalism and Ethical Issues in Clinical Research, and either Bioethics, Policies and Cases, or Medical Ethics.
Introduction to the Ethical Responsibility of Genetic Counselors
Course Directors: Randi Zinberg, MS, CGC and Rosamond Rhodes, PhD
This course introduces students to the concept of professional responsibility and professional codes of ethics with a focus on the genetic counselor code of ethics. The importance of confidentiality and truth-telling in genetic counseling are explored, and controversial topics such as conscientious objection and testing children for adult onset conditions are discussed.
CLR0720 Theories of Bioethics (Bioethics, Policies and Cases)
Course Directors: Rosamond Rhodes, PhD and Ian R. Holzman, MD
Most people who consider the ethical rules that should govern the practice of medicine assume that the ethics of medicine is no different from the rest of morality. For that reason, people who write about medical ethics draw on the classical sources of ethical insight. They discuss autonomy in Kantian terms, allocation of scarce resources in utilitarian terms, access to health care in terms of rights, and professionalism in terms of virtues. This dominant view was articulated by K. Danner Clouser in his Encyclopedia of Bioethics article on “Bioethics” where he explained that “bioethics is not a new set of principles or maneuvers, but the same old ethics being applied to a particular realm of concerns.” This strategy is most prominently expounded by Beauchamp and Childress in the six editions of their Principles of Medical Ethics and further explained by Gert, Culver, and Clouser in Bioethics: A Return to Fundamentals. The authors of those volumes identify the common features of morality, and show how to apply them to the practice of medicine. 40 This course will explore the major theoretical approaches to bioethics, including principlism, common morality, virtue theory, casuistry, and constructivist bioethics. We shall read and discuss this literature in the context of cases from the practice of medicine. Our study will be guided by two goals. First, we shall try to understand how these theories inform our thinking about medical ethics. Second, we shall try to assess whether these theories are actually appropriate to the practice of medicine. Do any of them actually identify an appropriate framework for the ethical practice of medicine? Do they provide a useful guide to the ethical practice of medicine? Do they offer helpful tools for resolving controversies within medical practice?
MPH0006/MGC1102 Medical Ethics
Course Directors: Stefan Baumrin, PhD, JD and Daniel A. Moros, MD
This course examines "classic" and emerging issues in biomedical ethics paying particular attention to the history of medicine and the nature of scientific thought as it relates to medical 39 ethics. While many issues in biomedical ethics seem timeless such as our concerns about the withholding of treatment, abortion, truth-telling - others have arisen out of the development of an increasingly scientific medicine beginning in the 1700s. It is the availability of well confirmed effective treatments that forces us to wrestle with such questions as the propriety of medical intervention over the objection of the patient, the treatment of children over the objection of their parents, the right of all citizens to health care, the regulation of the sale of body parts for transplantation, and numerous circumstances arising out of assisted reproduction. In the not too distant past, it would have seemed bizarre to consider the adjudication of competing rights when one woman contracts to rent the uterus of a surrogate to bear through in vitro fertilization the embryo formed from the egg of a third individual. The current revolution in biotechnology, microelectronics and nanotechnology continuously produces new issues. What is the meaning of confidentially in a world where an enormous amount of information about each of us can be extracted rapidly from numerous searchable databases? What is the moral status of the embryonic stem cell derived from a discarded embryo, or a non-human animal? How are we to regulate cloning and our ability to shape and alter the human genome? We now implant electrodes into the brains of patients with Parkinson's disease and essential tremor. Soon we may be treating depression, disorders of impulse control, anxiety and phobias electronically. Does such technology present different issues as compared with today's drug and surgical therapies? We will also be challenged by the products of bioengineering. We already have prosthetics that remarkably link the brain directly to external mechanical devises and further alter the meaning of disability. In medical ethics both the past and the future need to inform out vision of proper behavior and decision making. In our world of rapidly advancing technology, much medical ethics policies misread and mishandle the present and construct rules with an eye towards an idealized past, while failing to consider a fast approaching future. An aim of this course is to prepare philosophers to enter into medical institutions with the preparation necessary to be helpful additions to the provision of health care in ethically acceptable ways.