Moral and Practical Reasoning Seminar Series

Timing: Tuesdays, MT11 Weeks 1-8, 4 - 6pm

Venue: Lecture Room, Faculty of Philosophy, 10 Merton Street.

Presenters: Professor Janet Radcliffe Richards and Prof. Julian Savulescu*

The course consists of eight two-hour seminars, each introduced by a lecture.  The topics raised will depend on the interests of the class. We shall start with familiar problems in biomedical ethics, but the emphasis will be less on the subjects themselves than on methods of analysing them, and, as such, relevant to all areas of moral and practical decision making.  Familiar presentations of such issues – in clinical case studies, public pro-and-con debates, and ‘balanced’ coverage by the BBC – typically take forms that systematically distort the issues.  The aim here will be to find directions of approach that avoid these distortions, and investigate the extent to which this kind of clarification can influence attitudes to them.

The course is primarily intended for graduate students, from all disciplines, but undergraduates are also welcome. Very little philosophical background will be presupposed;  it will be introduced when, and only when, it is obviously needed.  The idea is to approach moral and practical reasoning from the bottom up, rather than the top down, via the development of techniques of argument and analysis. 

In particular, the course will offer an unfamiliar kind of introduction to medical ethics appropriate for medical students – and also for any doctors whose limited encounters with ethics as a subject may have led them to regard it as of little practical value.  Because the whole aim of the course is the integration of philosophical analysis with practical matters, participants with clinical and other practical experience will be particularly welcome. 

*Due to other work commitments, Prof. Julian Savulescu is unable to attend some of the classes.

Everyone welcome.

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