Thomas Cavanaugh

Thomas Cavanaugh

Professor of Philosophy; University of San Francisco

Issues in Medical Ethics

New medical developments conjoined with legal and cultural changes raise moral questions. Genetic engineering, cloning, physician-assisted suicide, body identity integrity disorder, and patient autonomy are a few of the controverted issues of our day. In this seminar, we will discuss a few prominent questions in contemporary medical ethics, asking how they can be understood in light of different views about the nature of medicine. Does the practice of medicine have moral principles internal to it or is medicine entirely a technique in need of external direction from law, society, and patients? Through brief readings and class discussions, we will consider such questions with a view to finding the most reasonable answers. For copies of the short readings, please contact

Dates: Wednesdays on 1.30, 2.6, 2.13, 2.20
Time: 5:30-7:00 PM

Seminar Schedule:

1/30: The Hippocratic oath, “first, do no harm’, and associated principles of medical ethics.
2/6: Genetic Engineering and Cloning
2/13: Physician-Assisted Suicide 
2/20: Patient and Professional Autonomy

Location: 2134 Allston Way

**This seminar is free and open to all Cal, GTU, and St Mary’s students.

Image: Hippocrates refusing the gifts of Artaxerxes by Anne-Louis Girodet (1792).