University of Malta

Study-Unit Description
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TITLE Bioethics: Anthropological and Methodological Issues

LEVEL 05 - Postgraduate Modular Diploma or Degree Course


DEPARTMENT Moral Theology

DESCRIPTION The first part of this study-unit, focusing on anthropology, will seek to present different philosophical views of the human person, the self and subjectivity. It will seek to trace the historical development of our ideas about the human person, focusing particularly, in the first place, on the modern turn to inwardness, including the ideals of self-responsible freedom and dignity and the existentialist twist to this gaze on inwardness. In the second place, the phenomenological trend and the analytic school of linguistic analysis are examined where links will be drawn with the metaphysical understanding of the human person. Various psychological theories of the self will be studied with the aim of comprehending the meta-psychological views involved.

The second part of the study-unit, dealing with methodological issues, aims to provide students with the background in moral philosophy necessary to engage in advanced analyses of issues in bioethics and health care and policy. It will first outline the history of bioethics and then give a brief description of the philosophy of medicine and the contribution philosophy and theology make to the field of bioethics today. It will then move on to a more sustained focus on the main ethical theories and their application in bioethics and health policy in preparation for more sustained independent study. Topics include: consequentialism, duty-based theories, rights-based theories, virtue ethics, feminist ethics, narrative ethics, casuistry, principlism, personalism and natural law.

Study-unit Aims:

This study unit aims to:
a) present different philosophical views of what it means to be a person and their implications;
b) present different ethical theories and describe how these are applied in concrete bioethical decision making;
c) analyze different models of moral reasoning and their use in good clinical judgments.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Knowledge & Understanding:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to:
(a) analyse the birth of bioethics as a distinct area of study (not just medical ethics);
(b) discuss the major ethical theories and their application in clinical scenarios;
(c) recognize that every medical decision implies an anthropological vision.

2. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be able to apply ethical theories and moral reasoning to real life clinical scenarios.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

- ATKINS Kim, Self and Subjectivity, Blackwell Publishing 2005.
- BEAUCHAMP Tom L - James F CHILDRESS, Principles of Biomedical Ethics, New York: Oxford University Press 2005.
- CHALMERS David J. (ed.), Philosophy of Mind: Classical and Contemporary Readings, Oxford University Press 2002.
- CHILDRESS James F, Practical Reasoning in Bioethics, Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press 1997.
- ENGELHARDT H Tristam, Jr, The Foundations of Bioethics, New York: Oxford University Press 19962.
- HACKER PMS, Human Nature, Blackwell Publishing 2007.
- KIM Jaegwon, Philosophy of Mind, Westview Press 2005.
- TAYLOR Charles, Sources of the Self, Cambridge University Press 1989.
- WILDES Kevin William, Moral Acquaintances: Methodology in Bioethics, Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press 2000.

STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Independent Study

Assessment Component/s Resit Availability Weighting
Assignment Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Mark Sultana
Raymond Zammit

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 study-unit description above applies to the academic year 2017/8, if study-unit is available during this academic year, and may be subject to change in subsequent years.
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The 21st Annual Augustinian Lecture 2017 will be celebrated on the 5th and 6th December 2017 with two lectures delivered by Rev. Prof. Theodore Dieter.

Closing Date Dissertation Proposals
Deadline to present dissertation proposals for next Faculty Board is Wednesday 29th November 2017 at 1700hrs

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