Medical Ethics

Medical Ethics


Take a sneak peek at a sample syllabus: Syllabus Fall 2021 (coming soon)

Professor: Dr. Ken Casey

General Statement:  

This is an introductory course in philosophical ethics; it will focus on practical issues faced in the medical profession. My father was a physician, my mother was a nurse and I have worked in several medical contexts as a chaplain. I find the field to be a fascinating one; I hope you will too. As I see it the course is an immensely practical course because ethics is about how we live our lives. Sometimes students complain that philosophy is very abstract; but ethics is by its nature very concrete and down to earth because it is about how we decide and act. You can refuse to decide about you view reality, but it is not possible to refuse to decide how to live it. To be sure we will study general theories about the nature of right action; this will be general and "abstract;" but this theoretical aspect will always need to be balanced with the practical aspect. We will attempt to forge a bridge from broad general principles to the specifics of a situation. 

What this class can do for you:

You may be wondering what you will get out of this class. I could give some answers, but perhaps it might also be good to turn the question around-what do you want to get out of the course? I put it this way to emphasize your initiative, since part of what you get out of the class will involve your expectations and input. I hope you will expect a lot-below I will list a few things that you can expect to gain from the course but part of what you get is dependent upon what you expect and demand from yourself.

Often, when I ask people what they want to get out of a course I hear the usual answers: humanities credit, a passing grade or an understanding what philosophy is. These answers are often honest expressions but they may also reflect a lack of spirit. Let me put the question another way: "what amazing and astounding abilities do you expect to have when you leave this course?" I suggest that there are three amazing abilities that you can expect to acquire as a result of this class. 

 You can expect to:

  • Be more well-rounded;
  • Be made more thoughtful
  • Be a better person, braver, fairer, more just and more civil to your fellows.