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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Asia Ferrin
PHIL 242
Seattle Campus

Introduction to Medical Ethics

Introduction to ethics, primarily for first- and second-year students. Emphasizes philosophical thinking and writing through an in-depth study of philosophical issues arising in the practice of medicine. Examines the issues of medical ethics from a patient's point of view.

Class description

This course will cover several main topics in medical ethics, including the right to refuse treatment, physician assisted suicide, euthanasia, definitions of disability and disease, and elective disability. The course is suitable for non-majors, so a familiarity with moral philosophy or medicine is helpful, but not required. What is required is a willingness to read closely, think about what you are reading, provide arguments for your beliefs, and engage critically yet respectfully with other’s arguments and beliefs.

Student learning goals

have a strong understanding of various moral issues in medicine and health care

be able to make connections between the content of the course and their own experiences

be able to coherently express their ideas about the course content in verbal and written form

be able to accurately interpret and charitably engage with others’ ideas

General method of instruction

Recommended preparation

Class assignments and grading

Assignments and Grading: 1. Reading Quizzes: There will be nine quizzes throughout the term. There will be no make-up quizzes. Your lowest quiz will be dropped. The aim of the quizzes is to measure your understanding of the readings, serve as a “philosophical warm up,” and help guide our critical reflection during class. (15%)

2. In-Class Skills Exercises: Skills exercises provide students with an opportunity to practice the philosophical skills we will be learning. These will include assignments such as “outline the argument of a specific reading in premise/conclusion form,” “explain in one paragraph the significance of a particular reading,” and “choose a reading from the previous week and explain in one paragraph how it relates to your daily experiences.” There are no make-ups for the exercise. There will be 13 exercises and your lowest score will be dropped. (25%)

3. Daily Discussion Board Contributions: Students will be asked to make contributions via the discussion board in Canvas Mondays through Thursdays. A new discussion board topic will be posted Monday through Thursday immediately after class (by 12:30pm). Student contributions will be due by midnight. Guidelines for discussion board contributions will be distributed in class. (15%).

4. Service Learning Component: (25%) Service-learning provides students a unique opportunity to connect coursework with life experience through public service. Offered as an integral part of many University of Washington courses, service-learning provides students an opportunity to experience theories traditionally studied within classrooms come to life, through conversations with community-based organizations. Choosing to engage in service-learning is a way to demonstrate your commitment to your community and your ability to link your academic studies to practical, real-world experiences. Given the short term of this class, there will be three main components of our service learning:

1) Guest speakers from various community organizations. Students will be required to bring prepared questions to class on the day of guest speakers (6%)

2) Students will participate in a two-day service project at the end of the term, July 23 and 24 (9%)

3) A final paper (3-5 pages) reflecting on your service learning experience will be due on Monday, July 29 (10%)

*Students who are unable/prefer not to participate in the service-learning component will complete a writing component for the course instead. The writing component will consist of three 3-4 page papers and a longer final paper (5-7 pages). Students who wish to do the writing option must confirm that with me by June 26.

5. Cumulative Final Exam: The exam will be administered in-class on July 22. It will cover the material for the entire course and will include short answer and essay questions (and possibly some multiple choice questions). It is crucial to your success in the class that you are in class for the final exam on July 22. Because of the short nature of A-term, I will not be able to administer the exam earlier or later than July 22. Mark your calendars, please. (20%)


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Asia Ferrin
Date: 06/18/2013