Ethics in Health and Medicine - Philosophy 336 / Nursing 336

Professor: William Sweet  
Office: 606 Nicholson Tower
Telephone: 867-2341
Office Hours:  Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, 3:45 p.m.-5:00 p.m., and by arrangement

This course introduces students to ethical theories and values, and to the critical examination of contemporary issues arising in health care and medicine. Issues to be discussed may include: the concept of health; the ethical responsibilities of professionals and professional integrity; freedom, autonomy, and consent; death, dying, and euthanasia; abortion; infanticide; research involving human subjects; the allocation of scarce medical resources; confidentiality and privacy; reproductive technologies and rights; medical and non-medical drug use.

Course Outline:

        a. What is ethics?
        b. Codes of ethics, values and principles
        c. Ethical decision making & personal and professional commitments
        d. Theory and practice
        e. Summary; Ethical decision making processes and protocols

1. Ethical Theory

Characteristics of an ethical theory

5 theories about morality
a. egoism
b. subjectivism and emotivism
c. relativism
d. legalism
e. amoralism

7 ethical theories:

a. 'religious' ethics
b. deontology (Kant) 
c. consequentialism (Mill)
d. theories of rights 
e. virtue theory (Aristotle)
f. ethics of care (feminist theories)
g. Possibilities of convergence: natural law (Maritain)

2. Ethical Values and Professional Values


6 ethical values & their foundations
a. beneficence and non-maleficence
b. autonomy
c. truthfulness and confidentiality
d. justice
e. dignity and respect
f.  Possibilities of convergence: integrity

3. Cases

1. consent 
2. reproduction / licensing 
3. euthanasia  and assisted suicide
4. abortion 
5. medical resources 


There will be a primary textbook - TBD

Some additional readings will be made available on line and/or in photocopied form

Other Resources:

CMA Code of Ethics

Code of Ethics for Registered Nurses

Some additional resources will be indicated as the course progresses

Method of Evaluation:

‘mid-term test’ - late-October – 10%
‘mid-year examination’ – December - 20 %
essay – 1st week of March – 20 %
final examination – April - 30 %
periodic short tests / quizes - 10 %
class discussion and class notes – 10 %