Biotechnology delivers test-tube human reproduction, high-tech life support, sanctioned mercy killings, embryonically cloned sheep, genetically modified crops, a warming global reality, and so on. Such technologies present profound personal dilemmas and tough policy decisions. Ethical questions inevitably arise: should embryos be cloned for research or reproduction, should parents control their child’s genetic make-up, should doctors help patients commit suicide, should scarce medical resources go to the highest bidder, should animals be subjected to painful research procedures, should plant life be patented and sold, should pollution rights be commodified and traded? Our aim is to examine this interface of biological science and ethical concern by employing philosophical principles and procedures (i.e. ethical theory and critical reasoning), first to clarify bioethical problems and then to develop nuanced if not wholly adequate attempts at resolving them. Learning outcomes include 1) gaining familiarity with varied biotechnological issues and ethical theories, 2) drafting applications of key ethical systems to human rights policies, and 3) learning to discuss and write clearly and critically in response to challenging bioethical questions.
Course restriction: Matriculated Syracuse students may earn credit for PHI 494 or PHI 594/REL 552, but not both.