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Unit of study_

HPSC1000: Bioethics

Science has given us nearly infinite possibilities for controlling life. Scientists probe the origins of life through research with stem cells and embryos. To unlock the secrets of disease, biomedicine conducts cruel experiments on animals. GM crops are presented as the answer to hunger. Organ transplantation is almost routine. The international traffic in human body parts and tissues is thriving. The concept of brain death makes harvesting organs ethically more acceptable. It may also result in fundamental changes in our ideas about life. Science has provided new ways of controlling and manipulating life and death. As a consequence, difficult ethical questions are raised in increasingly complex cultural and social environments. This course will discuss major issues in the ethics of biology and medicine, from gene modification to Dolly the sheep. This unit will be introductory, but a small number of topical issues will be studied in depth. No scientific background beyond Year 10 level will be assumed.

Code HPSC1000
Academic unit History and Philosophy of Science Academic Operations
Credit points 6

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. recognise and describe key ethical issues that arise in the biological sciences and in medicine
  • LO2. pose critical questions about episodes in science where ethical issues are at stake
  • LO3. pose well-defended arguments (both written and verbal) in favour of particular positions in current ethical debates in science
  • LO4. evaluate the relative merits of competing ethical arguments and appreciate the complexity of ethical situations
  • LO5. critically reflect on how values influence your interactions with the biological sciences and medicine, and your personal responsibilities as a future scientist, clinician, citizen, patient, or consumer of science.

Unit outlines

Unit outlines will be available 2 weeks before the first day of teaching for the relevant session.