Introduction to Bioethics

About this course

Should we clone humans? What should we think of the coming genetic revolution? How much control should we have over how and when we die? When does medical treatment turn into medical enhancement — and should we care? Is rationing health care good, bad, necessary — or all of the above?

This course will explore fundamental moral issues that arise in medicine, health, and biotechnology. Get behind the headlines — and polarized debates — and join others who want to think deeply and openly about these problems. Some are as old as life itself: the vulnerability of illness, the fact of death. Some are new, brought on by a dizzying pace of technology that can unsettle our core ideas about human nature and our place in the world. And nearly all intersect with issues of racial and gender equality, as well as policies affecting the world’s most vulnerable populations.

Designed to introduce students to the range of issues that define bioethics, together with core concepts and skills, this course should be of interest to undergraduates, health care professionals, policy makers, and anyone interested in philosophy or ethics.

Before your course starts, try the new edX Demo where you can explore the fun, interactive learning environment and virtual labs. Learn more.


What you’ll learn

  • Recognize core philosophy concepts in bioethics debates, including well-being, justice, and autonomy
  • Develop scientific literacy relevant to core bioethics topics such as abortion, genetic enhancement, and euthanasia
  • Understand key bioethics terms such as informed consent and medical futility
  • Practice engaging in reflective, respectful conversations with others on polarizing issues

Meet the instructors

  • bio for Tom Beauchamp

    Tom Beauchamp

  • bio for John Keown

    John Keown

  • bio for Rebecca Kukla

    Rebecca Kukla

  • bio for Margaret Little

    Margaret Little

  • bio for Madison Powers

    Madison Powers

  • bio for Karen Stohr

    Karen Stohr

  • bio for Robert M. Veatch

    Robert M. Veatch

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