Charles Camosy Syllabus
THEO 60631 Medical Ethics – Notre Dame Summer 2013
Charles C. Camosy, PhD
Contact Information: firstname.lastname@example.org
(574) 310-1211 (cell)
Confusion reigns supreme when it comes to discussion of medical ethics: whether in a
hospital ethics committee, presidential debate, an academic journal, or over a pint in a
pub. It is more often characterized by people talking past each other than about
discussion of the even the same topic—to say nothing of actually making progress on a
particular issue. For instance, three very different topics—the personhood of the fetus,
the permissibility of ever killing the fetus, and public policy about the personhood or
killing of the fetus—are often unhelpfully lumped together into arguments over a single
topic: abortion. This course attempts to deal with several classic topics in medical ethics
in a way that cuts through the confusion by dealing with the each of the three kinds of
issues (moral status, killing/treatment/care, and public policy) systematically. The course
will emphasize the Roman Catholic moral traditions, but will almost always be in
conversation with secular traditions as well. Key points not only of disagreement, but,
importantly, agreement will be emphasized in an attempt to at least get the issues straight
and, perhaps, move the debate forward.
1. To become familiar with the terms, principles and key issues in biomedical ethics.
2. To understand the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church on key medical ethics
3. To unpack the complex nature of difficult topics and see where the key points of
agreement and disagreement lie in various authors’ arguments about them.
4. To subject one’s current views on biomedical ethics to a healthy dose of
thoughtful criticism—from the texts, the instructor, fellow classmates, and (most
importantly) one’s self.
5. To see logical connections between the various bioethical issues under discussion
and to consistently apply one’s ethical and theological principles across these and
other ethical issues.
6. To see the connection between complicated theoretical ideas in biomedical ethics
and their practical application to real-life situations and clinical cases.
EVALUATION AND GRADING
Two Exams (50%) These exams will be in take-home essay format and will require
synthesis of course material.
Class Presentation(s) (25%)
Course Participation: In-Class and Online (25%) This class will require engagement
and participation. You can and will learn so much from interaction with your classmates
and by listening carefully to their views. I will expect thoughtful oral participation in
class (informed by the reading) on a regular basis. In the event that you are not able to
get in on the oral discussion as much as you like, please take advantage of posting your
thoughts, and responding to others, on the course discussion board on blackboard and
continue the conversation there.
1. You must attend class—but you have one ‘cut’ to use however you wish over the term.
Anyone missing more than one class will have their final average lowered by one full
grade for each class missed. Anyone missing more than three classes will not pass the
2. Dishonesty, including cheating and plagiarism, is totally unacceptable and will be
dealt with in the most serious way possible under university regulations.
3. Late work will not be accepted unless you have made previous arrangements.
4. I will not accept any assignment via e-mail. Please print out the work (perhaps on the
reverse side of scrap paper?) well in advance of class so you don’t run into printer
6. No laptops or cell phones are permitted in class.
On Moral Medicine: Theological Perspectives on Medical Ethics (third edition) Lysaught and Kotva (editors)
*Several texts will be available on electronic reserve (ER) https://www.library.nd.edu/eresources/ereserves/course.cgi?course=2009R_THEO_60631_01
(*Readings are TBD, but figure on no more than 50 pages of reading per class)
Theology and Medical Ethics
- On Moral Medicine (5-12, 43-75)
I. Moral Status and Medical Ethics
Are Human Fetuses Persons?
The Personhood of Human Infants
The Moral Status of Non-Human Animals
Personhood at the End of Human Life
II. Killing, Treatment, Care and Bioethics
Ordinary and Extraordinary Means of Treatment
Killing, Treatment and Care of Human Infants
Killing, Treatment and Care and of Human Fetuses and Embryos
The Nutrition/Hydration Debate
Medical Experiments on Non-Human Animals
III. Public Policy and (Re)Forming a Healthcare System
The Turn to Autonomy
Abortion Public Policy and Women
Reproductive Technologies and Vulnerable Populations
Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide Public Policy
Micro-Allocation, Macro-Allocation and Health Care Reform