21 July 2017
Medical Ethics - moral health care dilemmas and choices from a European Perspective
Those who are working in the medical professions are often confronted with decision making procedures that go far beyond the mere technological aspects that are involved in the cases under investigation. Doctors and nurses are aware of the fact that their fields of operation are characterised by moral parameters as well and they know that ethical reflection has to come in where scientific deliberation is no longer able to answer all the questions that are connected to the medical problems they have to deal with. This means that quite frequently a medical assessment needs the help of an ethical evaluation to cover completely the appraisal of a particular health situation and that doctors and nurses should be conscious of the moral status and implications of the conclusions they draw.
The aim of this course is to give an introductory investigation of the question if, when and how ethical considerations can or must play a role in the practice of the medical professions. It wants to make students aware of the fact that the health sciences are not operating in a moral vacuum and that a good knowledge of both the older and recent ethical debate in this particular field is of the greatest significance.
Besides this it wants to make clear that the European concept of a medical ethics as such is strongly related to typically western assumptions regarding the essence and status of a human being, which indicates that it could be made visible as well that a non western philosophical anthropology and morality will give rise to a medical ethics that is or can be rather different from its European counterpart. This intercultural way of work serves to yield a clear cut picture of the idea that, indeed, the European medical ethics is a very 'western' one.
This course consists of three parts. The first part of the course will give an introduction into some fundamental European philosophical ideas of what it means to be a human being. This introduction will be accompanied by an introduction into the most important ethical theories of the West.
The second part of the course will find an introduction into a variety of the most important non western philosophical ideas of what it means to be a human being. Some major ethical theories of the East will be explained.
The third part of the course wants to discuss some of the most important and well-known ethical problems that can be found within the medical field. They will be approached from a cross cultural perspective: both the western and eastern points of view will be analyzed and compared. There will be lectures, discussions and the study of cases that reflect the most important problems and topics that make up the moral challenges of the medical discipline of today.
The course includes a field trip.
This course consists of 32 class hours divided over 3 weeks. Students earn 6 ECTS credits when they obtain a passing grade.
By the end of this course students will have gained in-depth knowledge of the following subjects:
• The concept of a human being in European/western thought.
• The background, importance, concepts and ideas of medical ethics as such.
• The most important ethical theories that could, should or do play a role in the medical field.
• Classic cases that invited and shaped the development of ethical thought in the medical fields.
• The concept of a human being as it can be found in Confucian, Taoist, Hindu, Jain and Buddhist philosophies: its relation to some fundamental ideas of medical ethics in these systems of thought.
• Students will also be able to present an ethical discussion of a medical case for which a purely instrumental and technical approach must remain unsatisfactory. They will be able to offer a sound ethical analysis of this case and they will be able to present the outcome of the analysis in a clear, intercultural and philosophically correct way.
EUR 1000: Course