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 people shoulder the costs of their own unhealthy choices, or would a just society provide health care to all equally? Should physician-assisted suicide be legalized? Should abortion remain legal? Should I be able to make decisions about the health care of my future incompetent self with dementia, even if my future self would disagree with these decisions? What are our moral obligations to protect human health globally? These issues, in turn, raise basic philosophical questions. What is the nature of a just society? When are individuals rightly held responsible for their choices? Am I the same person as any future person with severe dementia? When does my life begin and when does it end? What are rights? Do we, for example, have a basic moral 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 we have rights to other goods that have even more impact on our health than access to health care? 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. 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 and 12 will be enrolled in the course as a Writing Intensive course with an extra section. Spring semester. Professor Gentzler.