PHIL 3160 Bioethics


Anthony Kelley



‘Bioethics’ refers to an interdisciplinary research program on applied ethical issues as it relates to healthcare, medical science, medical technology, the environment, and other related fields. In this course, we’ll ask questions such as: When, if ever, is it permissible to have an abortion? Should your doctor ever lie to you? Is there a right to healthcare? Clergy, scientists, medical professionals, lawyers, and public policy experts have all taken up the questions that we will address this term. Our approach, however, will be a distinctly philosophical one. In this course, we will use reason to develop and evaluate arguments on controversial issues in bioethics. The course is designed (i) to introduce the student to some of the central topics of the field of bioethics in particular and (ii) to cultivate each student’s capacity for philosophical reasoning more generally.


By the end of this course, students will be able to:

  • Extract, explain, and evaluate an argument.
  • Write a philosophy paper in which a central thesis is clearly and cogently stated, argued for, and defended against objections.
  • Engage in respectful philosophical dialogue on controversial matters related to bioethics.
  • Outline the main considerations in favor of and against utilitarianism and Kantian ethics.
  • Understand and evaluate the main positions on the following controversial topics in bioethics: prenatal screening, abortion, euthanasia, organ allocation, eating meat and animal experimentation, advance directives, paternalism and patient autonomy, informed consent, doctors telling the truth to their patients, the non-identity problem, and the allocation of healthcare.


There is no required textbook for this course. All readings are available free of charge on Canvas.


Reading Quizzes (10%)

Discussion Posts (10%)

Paper #1 (20%)

Midterm Exam (20%)

Paper #2 (20%)

Final Exam (20%)

Total 600 pts.

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Monday – Friday
8:00am to 5:00pm


We are located at the corner of University Avenue and 15th Street in a white brick building.


1505 University Avenue
University of Colorado Boulder
178 UCB
Boulder, Colorado