Fall 2010

Human Health:  Rights and Wrongs


Jyl Gentzler (Section 01)


Currently, Americans are engaged in heated debates about access to health care.  These debates are unlikely to end soon because they raise some of the most fundamental questions about what it means to live in a just society.  Do all humans have a right to health care?  What about education, safe neighborhoods, meaningful work, deep personal relationships, which many have argued are equally, if not more, important to determining lifelong human health?   Do we have any obligation to protect the health of our fellow citizens?  What about the health of humans beings who live far away in distant lands, or of human beings who will live in the distant future?  Does justice require us to eliminate health disparities associated with class, race, and gender?   In this course, we will investigate the multiplicity of factors that determine human health, and attempt to determine the extent of our moral obligations to protect and promote it.  We will also investigate another class of fundamental questions raised by the current health-care debates. What makes an argument a good argument?   Do we have obligations to argue well--that is, to avoid fallacious reasoning, appeals to false or misleading information, personal attacks, and fear-mongering?  Or, are such argumentative tactics legitimate if the social ends these arguments serve are sufficiently important?

In this discussion-based course, students will develop skills in close and critical reading, clear and eloquent communication both in writing and in speech, cogent argumentation, and reliable research.  Required work will include frequent short writing, exercises in argument analysis, class discussion and debate, medium-length papers, and a final research paper.

Limited to 15 students. Fall semester.  Professor Gentzler.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2010