Philosophy 164

Medical Ethics

Spring 2004

Instructor: Chris Heathwood

MWF 10:10 - 11:00 p.m.,  Bartlett 206

 Syllabus  Course Outline
 What We Did Each Day  Readings
 Shineups and Handouts  Study Guides


May 16: Assistance on Essay 3. In light of some meetings I've had with some of you about your essays, I want to provide some assistance on Essay 3. Part (b) of Essay 3 asks you to give Harris' interpretation of the expression 'plays God'. Many of those with whom I have met understood Harris as using the following interpretation:

To play God is to re-allot the life opportunities that fate has determined.

This was not really the one I was looking for. For one thing, the idea of "re-allotting the life opportunities that fate has determined" is just about as obscure in meaning as the original phrase ('playing God') it is supposed to clarify.

In class, we understood Harris as using the following interpretation:

To play God is to determine what will happen in the world.

This was the interpretation I was looking for.

But I'll tell you what. In your essay, you can use either interpretation. However, the criticism you give of the argument (in part (c)) will differ depending upon which interpretation you use. So feel free to use either one, but tailor your criticism accordingly. (If you need to brush up on how to criticize "playing God arguments," take another look at the Feldman reading on the topic from the beginning of the course.)

May 10: No Cloning on Final. I removed the three One Liners on cloning (#'s 25-27) from the Final Study Guide. You're no longer responsible for any cloning material for the final.

May 5: Final Study Guide is Now Up!  The Study Guide for the Final Exam is up. I encourage you to begin on it as soon as possible. Notice in the instructions that I indicate that you will be able to choose one out of two essays on the final. There are four essays on the study guide. This means that you will be safe if you prepare for only three of them.

May 5: Updated Shineups and Course Outlines pages.

May 2: Our Final Exam will take place Thursday, May 20 at 8:00 a.m. in HASA 126 (Hasbrouck Lab. Addition 126) (Map: C4)

April 21: Updated Shineups and Course Outlines pages.

April 21: NO CLASS THIS FRIDAY (APRIL 23). But there is still class on Thursday.

March 26: Taboo. Now that you're done with the midterm, congratulate yourself by checking out this fun little activity. Ok -- it still has to do with ethics, but it's still pretty fun, I swear! So do it -- it'll just take a couple minutes -- and then we can talk about it in class.

Here it is: . Check it out.

March 19: Important Notice about Midterm.  In light of a recent question from one of your classmates, I want to be sure you're clear about the midterm. You need to be prepared to do *all* of the essays. The exam will contain just one of them, but you won't know which one. So be prepared to do them all.

If you have any questions about any of them, I'd be happy to discuss it with you.

March 12: Study Guide Is Up! The midterm will take place on Friday, March 26. The study guide for the midterm is now up. So you have two weeks to prepare. I suggest you begin preparing as soon as possible -- the study guide is pretty big. I encourage you to ask me for guidance if you are uncertain about some parts of the study guide -- especially the essays.

March 8: Updated Shineups and Course Outline pages.

March 4: CLASS NO LONGER CANCELED ON THURSDAY, APRIL 22. I was able to change my flight to that conference, so the only class cancellation will be Friday, April 23.  Please change your syllabus accordingly.

February 25: NO CLASS FRIDAY.  Nicki (my wife) is just going in to labor. We're off to the hospital. We should be there for a few days so no class Friday. Enjoy the long weekend (from 164 anyway).

I do apologize for having to cancel class again. What a semester this has been! This is not certainly my usual routine. But I expect things to get back to normal next week (at least inside the classroom!).

February 21: Posted Lecture on "Playing God".  The lecture is on the Readings page.  Please study the lecture on your own and come to class Monday with questions.

February 19: NO CLASS FRIDAY, FEB. 20.  To my surprise, I'm still too weak and "out of it" to teach tomorrow.  I've decided to take the option (4) I described last time.  This means that I'm going to post a lecture on "playing God" on the website for you to study on your own.  I hope to have it up sometime tomorrow (Friday).  Then on Monday we'll begin with your questions on that lecture and on the Feldman reading on the same topic.  Then we'll move on to abortion.

I apologize for having to cancel these two classes.  To some of you, this might be a welcome respite from a heavy course load.  But if any of you feels like you're not getting your money's worth out of the course, let's set up some additional times to meet.  We can discuss the logic material or the playing God stuff in more depth.

Please read the new lecture once it's up, and enjoy your weekend!

February 17: NO CLASS WEDNESDAY, FEB. 18.  I've still got quite a ways to go, recovery-wise.  So no class tomorrow, Wednesday.  I apologize for having to cancel class.  In the meantime please take a look at Handout 1 on the Shineups and Handouts page.  For each valid argument on that handout, be sure you understand why it is valid, and for each invalid argument be sure you understand why it is invalid.

I'm still not sure what's going to happen for Friday.  As I see it, there are four possibilities: (1) I'm well enough to teach and so I teach; (2) I'm not well enough to teach and so cancel class; (3) I'm not well enough to teach but I have a friend teach the class for me; and (4) I'm not well enough to teach and I cancel class, but I post my lecture (on "playing God") on the website for you to study on your own.

If we do option (4), please write down any questions you have as you read the lecture and as you study the Feldman article.  We would begin with your questions next week.

Please check the website before class on Friday to know what the plan is.

Again, sorry for canceling class.

February 15: Possible Class Cancellation!  I went to the ER Friday afternoon with bad abdominal pain and it turns out I had appendicitis.  I got surgery on the spot to have my appendix removed.  Depending on how my recovery goes, I may have to cancel class on Wednesday.  So please check your email or the website before Wednesday's class for the latest update.

February 13: Two Washington Post Stories Today Relevant to Medical Ethics. One story, "S. Korean Scientists Describe Cloning," touches on issues of cloning and the exploitation or coercion of experimental subjects. Another story, "Ashcroft: Abortion Records Needed," touches on issues of abortion and patient confidentiality. You may need to sign up to read the articles.

February 11: Added Shineups to Website. I added some shineups to the website. Click on 'Shineups and Handouts' above to see them. I will continue to add the shineups from class to the website.

February 6: Our book is now available on reserve at the library. Or it should be -- please notify me if it is not.

January 31: A Message About the Textbook from One of Your Classmates: "I might also point out that the umass/"efollett" webpage probably has it ... I was able to order a lot of books from there and pick them up in the text book annex...used copies even!!! This might be good for the students who can't get to Amherst or don't want to buy a new book!
... books were available the next day for pick up!"

January 31: Textbook Issue. Someone said that our book is currently out of stock at the Textbook Annex. I think I might know what the problem is. There are two other sections of Phil 164 that are using the same book. The instructors for those sections ordered their book from Amherst Books (8 Main St. in Amherst). But I suspect that some of the students from those other classes bought *our* copies of the book at the Annex. So if you still haven't got the book, check at Amherst Books. They probably have plenty there.

Sorry for the inconvenience.

January: Get Textbook; Email Me.  Pick up the course textbook (Kuhse and Singer (eds.), Bioethics: An Anthology (Blackwell, 1999), ISBN: 0631203117).  It is available at the Textbook Annex.  Next, send me an email with your name, level, major, previous philosophy courses (if any), and why you chose to take this course.