Syllabus for PHI-475



Biomedical Ethics is an exploration of complex contemporary ethical problems from the fields of biomedicine, healthcare and environmental studies. Students will apply classical and contemporary ethical and moral theories, along with the principles of scientific integrity, to a range of problems such as human experimentation and informed consent, end-of-life issues, reproductive technology, genetic privacy, abortion, resource allocation and the responsibilities of humans toward their environment. Case studies will play an integral role in the evaluation of these topics. Students will be asked to think critically about these issues, and they will be required to make and defend principled moral judgments in their written assignments.



After completing this course, you should be able to:

CO1        Examine the foundations of key moral principles, including deontology and utilitarianism.

CO2        Compare the foundations of various moral principles as well as theories of distributive justice.

CO3        Apply moral principles and principles of distributive justice to medical, healthcare, and bioethical issues.

CO4        Illustrate principled arguments in support of particular positions in bioethics.

CO5        Appraise various ethical positions, including the unspoken or unarticulated foundations of those positions.

CO6        Analyze the values that underlie various positions in bioethics.

CO7        Examine the role that an individual plays in society and how that role affects choices and values.

CO8        Investigate the intersection of ideologies and issues at the local, national, and global level.

CO9        Write cogent, coherent, and substantially error-free essays or papers.


You will need the following materials to do the work of the course. The required textbook is available from the University’s textbook supplier, MBS Direct.

Required Textbook

ISBN: 978-1-4443-3714-3

Online Writing Sources and Tutorial Options

Biomedical Ethics is a writing intensive course that places great emphasis on helping you to further develop your writing skills. Listed below are helpful writing resources and tutoring options:


Biomedical Ethics is a three-credit online course, consisting of six (6) modules. Modules include an overview, topics, learning objectives, study materials, and activities. Module titles are listed below.


For your formal work in the course, you are required to participate in online discussion forums, complete written assignments, and complete a final project (including an annotated bibliography). See below for details.

Consult the Course Calendar for due dates.

Discussion Forums

In addition to an ungraded Introductions Forum, you are required to participate in eleven (11) graded online class discussions.

Communication with your mentor and among fellow students is a critical component of online learning. Participation in online class discussions involves two distinct activities: an initial response to a discussion question and at least two subsequent comments on classmates' responses.

All of these responses must be substantial. Meaningful participation is relevant to the content, adds value, and advances the discussion. Comments such as "I agree" and "ditto" are not considered value-adding participation. Therefore, when you agree or disagree with a classmate or your mentor, state and support your position.

You will be evaluated on the quality and quantity of your participation, including your use of relevant course information to support your point of view, and your awareness of and responses to the postings of your classmates. Remember, these are discussions: responses and comments should be properly proofread and edited, mature, and respectful.

Written Assignments and Reflection Essays

You are required to complete three (3) written assignments and three (3) reflection essays.

Annotated Bibliography and Final Project

The final project in this course is a research report on a bioethics topic of your choice. (See the full description in the Final Project area of the course.) A research project begins with your conducting research on a broad area of the academic literature and concludes with a more focused argumentative essay, in which you locate and defend your own position in the debate. Since the first step is to research your topic, in module 6 of this course you will prepare and submit an annotated bibliography.

Module 6 includes a full description and requirements for this assignment. You will submit it early in module 6, allowing you to obtain and utilize helpful feedback from your mentor. In addition, at any time throughout the course before you submit your final project you have the option to submit an early stage of it—such as your thesis statement or a short outline—for mentor feedback. Your are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to improve your work.

Your will use the “Private Student-Mentor Forum” for this purpose.


Your grade in the course will be determined as follows:

All activities will receive a numerical grade of 0–100. You will receive a score of 0 for any work not submitted. Your final grade in the course will be a letter grade. Letter grade equivalents for numerical grades are as follows:






























Below 60

To receive credit for the course, you must earn a letter grade of C or better (for an area of study course) or D or better (for a course not in your area of study), based on the weighted average of all assigned course work (e.g., exams, assignments, discussion postings, etc.).


First Steps to Success

To succeed in this course, take the following first steps:

Study Tips

Consider the following study tips for success:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to maintaining academic quality, excellence, and honesty. The University expects all members of its community to share the commitment to academic integrity, an essential component of a quality academic experience.

Students at Thomas Edison State University are expected to exhibit the highest level of academic citizenship. In particular, students are expected to read and follow all policies, procedures, and program information guidelines contained in publications; pursue their learning goals with honesty and integrity; demonstrate that they are progressing satisfactorily and in a timely fashion by meeting course deadlines and following outlined procedures; observe a code of mutual respect in dealing with mentors, staff, and other students; behave in a manner consistent with the standards and codes of the profession in which they are practicing; keep official records updated regarding changes in name, address, telephone number, or e-mail address; and meet financial obligations in a timely manner. Students not practicing good academic citizenship may be subject to disciplinary action including suspension, dismissal, or financial holds on records.

All members of the University community are responsible for reviewing the Academic Code of Conduct Policy in the University Catalog and online at

Academic Dishonesty

Thomas Edison State University expects all of its students to approach their education with academic integrity—the pursuit of scholarly activity free from fraud and deception. All mentors and administrative staff members at the University insist on strict standards of academic honesty in all courses. Academic dishonesty undermines this objective. Academic dishonesty can take the following forms:


Thomas Edison State University is committed to helping students understand the seriousness of plagiarism, which is defined as using the work and ideas of others without proper citation. The University takes a strong stance against plagiarism, and students found to be plagiarizing are subject to discipline under the academic code of conduct policy.

If you copy phrases, sentences, paragraphs, or whole documents word-for-word—or if you paraphrase by changing a word here and there—without identifying the author, or without identifying it as a direct quote, then you are plagiarizing. Please keep in mind that this type of identification applies to Internet sources as well as to print-based sources. Copying and pasting from the Internet, without using quotation marks and without acknowledging sources, constitutes plagiarism. (For information about how to cite Internet sources, see Online Student Handbook > Academic Standards > “Citing Sources.”)

Accidentally copying the words and ideas of another writer does not excuse the charge of plagiarism. It is easy to jot down notes and ideas from many sources and then write your own paper without knowing which words are your own and which are someone else’s. It is more difficult to keep track of each and every source. However, the conscientious writer who wishes to avoid plagiarizing never fails to keep careful track of sources.

Always be aware that if you write without acknowledging the sources of your ideas, you run the risk of being charged with plagiarism.

Clearly, plagiarism, no matter the degree of intent to deceive, defeats the purpose of education. If you plagiarize deliberately, you are not educating yourself, and you are wasting your time on courses meant to improve your skills. If you plagiarize through carelessness, you are deceiving yourself.

For examples of unintentional plagiarism, advice on when to quote and when to paraphrase, and information about writing assistance and originality report checking, click the links provided below.

Examples of Unintentional Plagiarism

When to Quote and When to Paraphrase

Writing Assistance at Smarthinking

Originality Report Checking at Turnitin

Disciplinary Process for Plagiarism

Acts of both intentional and unintentional plagiarism violate the Academic Code of Conduct.

If an incident of plagiarism is an isolated minor oversight or an obvious result of ignorance of proper citation requirements, the mentor may handle the matter as a learning exercise. Appropriate consequences may include the completion of tutorials, assignment rewrites, or any other reasonable learning tool in addition to a lower grade for the assignment or course. The mentor will notify the student and appropriate dean of the consequence by e-mail.

If the plagiarism appears intentional and/or is more than an isolated incident, the mentor will refer the matter to the appropriate dean, who will gather information about the violation(s) from the mentor and student, as necessary. The dean will review the matter and notify the student in writing of the specifics of the charge and the sanction to be imposed.

Possible sanctions include:

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