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PHIL 309


An advanced course in a topics area, such as, metaethics, contemporary European philosophy, or Social-Political Philosophy. Prerequisite: one course in philosophy or permission of instructor. May be repeated for credit with different topics.

Distribution Area Prerequisites Credits
One course in philosophy or permission of instructor 1 course

Fall Semester information

Marcia McKelligan

309A: Tps:Choosing Death

Tps:Choosing Death

This course deals with some ethical, legal, epistemological and metaphysical questions connected with decisions to end life in both medical and non-medical settings. To get a good grasp on the moral dimensions of these decisions, it will be important to understand some of the main concepts entangled in them. So we will examine ideas that play a central role in life-and-death decision-making, ideas such as personhood, autonomy, paternalism, human dignity, and medical futility. We will also tackle fundamental questions such as what is it to be alive, what is death, what are the criteria for determining when death has come, and what can be known about the state of consciousness of non-communicative patients. Study of these basic issues will inform our examination of the ethics of a wide array of deathly decisions, including abortion, physician-assisted suicide, euthanasia, withholding and withdrawal of treatment, and declaring death for the purpose of organ harvesting. Most of the articles assigned are written by philosophers, but some are by medical professionals, scientific researchers, religious thinkers, and social observers and critics. Students will sometimes be responsible for presenting material and leading class discussion. In addition there will be short papers and a longer final paper and presentation. There is a prerequisite of at least one other course in philosophy. Coursework in ethics is useful but not required.