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.

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

Discussion Schedule and Readings:

  • 1/30: The Hippocratic Oath and the Principles of Medical Ethics. Reading: Tom Cavanaugh, Hippocrates’ Oath” and “Principles of Medical Ethics”
  • 2/6: Genetic Engineering and Cloning. Reading: Leon Kass, “Cloning of Human Beings” and Dan Brock, “Genetic Engineering”.
  • 2/13: Physician-Assisted Suicide. Readings: James Rachel, “Active and Pass Euthanasia” and Tom Cavanaugh, “Currently Accepted Practices that Lead to Death”
  • 2/20: Patient and Professional Autonomy. Readings: Julian Savulescu, “Conscientious Objection”; Tom Cavanaugh, “Professional Autonomy”; Andrea Chu, “My New Vagina Won’t Make Me Happy”

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).