Fall 2007

Health Care Ethics

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-23


Jyl Gentzler (Section 01)


U.S. citizens are currently faced with many important decisions about health care policy. Who should have access to health care and to which services? Should physician-assisted suicide be legalized? Should AIDS be treated differently from other sorts of communicable diseases? Should abortion remain legal? These issues, in turn, raise basic philosophical questions. What is the nature of rights? Do we, for example, have a basic right to health care, to privacy, to decide the course of our treatment, or to authority about the timing and manner of our deaths? Do fetuses have a right to life? These issues, in turn, raise questions about the relative weight and nature of various goods--e.g., life, pain relief, health, privacy, autonomy, and relationships--and questions about the justice of various distributions of these goods between different individuals when their interests are in conflict. Finally, our attempts to answer these questions will raise basic questions about the nature of rationality. Is it possible to reach rational decisions about ethical matters, or is ethics merely subjective? Limited to 25 students; preference given to students with sophomore standing or above. First semester. Professor Gentzler.