Tuesday, May 26, 2009
May 26, 2009
Even though this week will be short, it will be a good one.
How can I tell? Because Terry Rosell is starting a new session with 2nd year medical students who are beginning their bioethics M.A. And he has asked John Lantos, John Carney and me to help him out this week.
John L is addressing “Bioethics and Babies” with the class even as I type; tomorrow John C will address “Aging in Community,” and on Thursday I get to do “Doing Ethics and Avoiding Common Fallacies,” (mixing a little logic in with their Beauchamp and Childress readings on Moral Theories and Method and Moral Justification).
At times like this, I wish I could remember everything I had learned in class—and hope that the students do! But, of course, I don’t and they won’t. But to get them at the beginning, to make them aware of how they think about issues—and how others may think differently—is to share a treasured moment with them.
And we shall close with an analysis of the Baby K case (an anencephalic baby whose mother insisted on ventilator support until the baby died). I want them to see that a utilitarian perspective isn’t the only one possible, and that a Kantian perspective can find us caught up in conflicting obligations—but how does one encourage the development of a virtue ethic without sermonizing!!
No ethical theory guarantees us that we shall be “right,” but arguing civilly with one another might just lead to the development of virtue.
And then a dose of fallacies! I hope all three of us leave some lasting impressions.