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BIOS 3840—Bioethics: Bioethical Problems in Biology and Medicine

Three Semester Hours

DM 5/15


University Requisite: 6 hours in BIOS

Course Overview

This class is designed for students interested in learning more about the areas of biology, ethics, medicine, and related fields. For the “pure science” major, you may find this class to be somewhat problematic because we are not dealing with the clear-cut, traditional black and white issues typically dealt with in science classes. Many of the situations encountered in the world today, especially in the ethics area, are really in the “gray” zone, as there appears to be no definite right or wrong answer(s). To further muddy the waters, medical ethics issues usually involve human attributes; characteristics, such as feelings, emotions, attitudes, customs, religions, etc., all play a major role. The field also involves philosophical questions, such as those regarding what is right or wrong, morality, duty, autonomy, beneficence, non-malevolence, etc. and, hopefully, the facts of the case.

Methods of Course Instruction

All material for this course is print-based. Instructor and students communicate and exchange materials through postal mail. 

E-Print Option

In this course, an option exists to use e-mail to submit your lesson assignments. Your assignment will be returned to you either as an e-mail attachment or as a hard copy sent through the postal mail, depending on the preferences of the instructor and/or program. 

Textbooks and Supplies

Beauchamp, Tom L. et al. Contemporary Issues in Bioethics. 8th ed. Cengage Learning, 2013. [ISBN: 9781133315544]

Number of Lessons

The course has 11 lessons, including one midcourse examination and one final examination. These lessons include:

  • Lesson 1: Introduction
  • Lesson 2: Provider–Patient Relationships: Autonomy Rights and Medical Information 
  • Lesson 3: Eugenics—Basic Human Genetics (Heredity)
  • Lesson 4: Reproduction and Reproductive Technologies (The Continuation of Species)
  • Lesson 5: End of Life (Issues) Decision-Making
  • Lesson 6: Midcourse Examination Information
  • Lesson 7: Organ Transplant
  • Lesson 8: Human and Animal Experimentation
  • Lesson 9: Justice and Autonomy in Health Care
  • Lesson 10: Public Health
  • Lesson 11: Final Examination Information

Types of Writing Assignments

For each lesson, you will be asked to answer three short-essay questions with 33 points possible for each correct and adequate essay. These are short-essay questions that measure your understanding of what you have read and your ability to make connections among the terms and concepts.

Grading Criteria

You will receive a grade for each regular lesson assignment with the point values indicated in the lesson. The average for these assignments counts as 20% of your course grade. Each examination also counts as 40% of the grade. The course grade is determined by your final average according to the scale below.

100–85% — A
84–75% — B
74–65% — C
64–50% — D
Below 50% — F

This curve is somewhat more liberal than that used in the classroom setting because the personal face-to-face contact is lacking in a course such as this. In a few cases, I have used the + and –, and reserve the right to do so if warranted.