University Teaching


Course description:

Bioethics is the study of the ethical issues associated with biology, medicine, and biotechnology. This course provides an introduction to the fundamental ethical principles traditionally used in bioethics in the US: beneficence/non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice. In this course, we’ll examine these principles in depth and consider how they inform the way medical science can respond to complex questions of disability, gender, culture, and race. 

Course goals:

Students will

  • understand the classic principles of bioethics
  • critically examine ethical principles
  • practice relating abstract theory to specific cases
  • evaluate philosophical argumentation across a range of texts
  • develop their own philosophical arguments and engage in respectful, substantive philosophical discussions
Course Schedule :

The Principles. Students are introduced to the classic principles of bioethics and read short piece on connection between medical school and “real world”

The Challenge. Two articles on problems with principalism: the first calls attention to “principlist paradigm” and overreliance on four principles, second advocates importance of intersectionality alongside principalism.

Beneficence/Non Maleficence. Students consider relationship between beneficence and compassion, and read articles from disability pride movement.

Autonomy & Refusal. Students are introduced to complexity of ‘autonomy’ through Kukla’s work and consider “informed refusal”

Autonomy & Surrogate Decision Making. Article on communitarianism as well as short documentary on decision making and intersex babies.

The View From Somewhere. An introduction to feminist epistemology and considerations about the “culture-less culture” of medicine.

Epistemic Justice. Students consider sources of medical/health knowledge, including issues with cultural co-opting.

Applied Ethics

Course description:

Applied ethics describes the process of applying an ethical lens to a real-world issue or question. In this 300-level course, students will analyze contemporary work in applied ethics. We’ll discuss papers that seek to answer questions like “Why are endangered species valuable?” and “Does experiencing homelessness violate someone’s rights?”. Students will also work throughout the term to create their own applied ethics paper that applies an ethical analysis to an interesting question of their choosing. This is a rigorous (but rewarding) course that demands significant reading and writing. 

Course goals:

Students will

  • gain exposure to work being done in contemporary applied ethics
  • practice identifying and analyzing argumentation in philosophical work
  • generate a unique applied ethics paper by homing in on an interesting ethical question, creating a philosophical thesis and argument, and practice writing & receiving peer reviews
Course Schedule

What do we care about? Discussion on what topics class is passionate about, introduction to why applied ethics matters through discussion of class policies

Generating an interesting ethical question. Students examine the topic and theses of applied ethics papers.

Identifying ethical considerations. Learning how ethical approaches can provide ways to answer questions.

Argument construction. Students analyze the arguments in applied ethics papers, and pick/create an argument structure for their own paper.

Incorporating real-world information. Students read applied ethics papers that utilize empirical information, personal experience, other philosophy articles/concepts, and respond to culture.

Peer feedback. Students engage in rigorous and respectful peer-review process.

Introduction to Logic

Course Description: The logic curriculum focuses on instilling critical thinking, and makes logic accessible for those just beginning to practice philosophy or mathematics. Students in this course pursue multi-week Argument Analysis and Argument Creation Assignments.

Course Goals:

Students will:

  • critically evaluate arguments using logic and reasoning
  • enhance skills in argumentation and critical thinking
  • learn how to use truth tables
  • understand threshold concepts necessary for doing philosophical work, such as contingency and validity