Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Science, Society and Ethics

LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DESCRIPTION This study-unit is subdivided into three major areas as follows:

1. Ethics: moral issues arising out of advances in scientific knowledge and technology, e.g. models of moral reasoning, limits of biological reductionism, reproductive technologies, moral problems concerning behaviour modification, genetic engineering, cloning, etc.

2. Ethical scientific research - Respect of fundamental principles, such as, human life, human dignity, and integrity of the person; democracy, the rule of law, prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment; freedom of expression and of information; intellectual property rights; privacy and data protection; environmental protection; informed consent, confidentiality, minimal risk.

3. Ethical codes, legislation and conventions: codes of ethics, European Union Directives, and conventions of the Council of Europe, Helsinki Declaration.

Study-unit Structure:

- Ethics, Life Sciences and Belief in Progress
- Progress and the Image of Man: Reductionism vs Human Dignity
- Models of Moral Reasoning: Consequentialism vs Deontology
- Concept of Life and Reproductive Technologies
- Research Ethics
- Life Sciences, Democracy and Ethics
- Genetics and behaviour
- Science Fiction as a Cultural Phenomenon: Ethical Implications

Students are informed that regular lecture attendance is obligatory. They will be allowed to submit their assignment for assessment and will be awarded a grade only if they have regularly attended lectures and if they satisfy all other study-unit requirements.

Study-unit Aims:

The aim of the study-unit is for students to appreciate the ethical impact of science and technology with a special emphasis on environment, animals, and human society. Moreover that Scientists do not work in a nutshell but should be aware of the impact of research and advancing technologies on man and to foster a respect for human dignity.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

Evaluate the ethical dimensions using various models of dilemmas presenting to scientists and the scientific world.

Describe the ethical implications of contracts that scientists make with industry and academia.

Describe and discuss how science effects human health and why ethical dilemmas arise.

Describe and discuss so as to show an ethical understanding of the following areas: research on humans and on animals, environmental ethics, human reproduction, cloning, the new genetics, stem cell research, transplantation of organs, ethical theories of utilitarianism and deontology, and the impact of science on humans, with special consideration to medical technology and research.

2. Skills:
By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:

Make a presentation of a selected case study and discuss it with the class.

Participate in the discussion of case studies presented by other groups.

Foster a respect for humankind, the environment and animal rights.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

European Union, Modern Biology and Visions of Humanity, European Communities, 2004.
Mallia, P. You and Your Doctor, Agenda 2006.
Chadwick R. (ed), Ethics in Science and Technology Rutledge.
Cauchi M.N. (Ed). Bioethical Issues at the Beginning and End of Life. The Bioethics Consultative Committee. Malta 2002.
Mallia P. The Beginning and End of Life. Moral Dilemmas. PEG Publishers. 2002.

ADDITIONAL NOTES Offered to B.Sc. (Hons) Biology and Chemistry.


B.Sc. (Hons.) 1st Year and 2nd Year Study-units or equivalent.

Students are to note that they will be allowed to sit for this study-unit examination and will be awarded a grade only if they have regularly attended lectures and practical classes, if they have submitted any assignments, including practical reports and if they satisfy all other study-unit requirements.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Practical

Assessment Component/s Assessment Due Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment SEM2 Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Pierre Mallia

The University makes every effort to ensure that the published Courses Plans, Programmes of Study and Study-Unit information are complete and up-to-date at the time of publication. The University reserves the right to make changes in case errors are detected after publication.
The availability of optional units may be subject to timetabling constraints.
Units not attracting a sufficient number of registrations may be withdrawn without notice.
It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2020/1. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.