BIOETHICS - An Outline for a High School Course
A working definition views Bioethics as, "biology combined with diverse humanistic knowledge forging a science that sets a system on medical and environmental priorities for acceptable survival" (Potter). This course is concerned with dilemmas caused when the facts of medical-genetic research conflict with norms and needs of society. Focus will be placed on under-standing and appreciating relevant biological facts as they confront the prin-ciples and practice of ethical decision making at the level of the individual, the community, and nations.
Punahou School is scheduled on a modular variable 6 day cycle with 14 cycles to a semester. Its students are college bound. Bioethics will be offered for the first time in the Spring semester of 1993 and structured as follows:
III. Student Expectations & Grading Value
IV. General Overview & End Goals For Students & Teachers
V. STUDENTS - Specific Sequence, Readings and Timing
VI. TEACHER - Specific Sequence, Readings and Timing
Intro...a note about strategy. Teacher and students aim to clarify and not confuse the issue by focusing on feelings and reasons, not on beliefs. The aim is not to destroy a belief but if belief crumbles in the presence of few questions perhaps the belief may not be worthy, at least in the form presented. Focus on reasoning. The vehicle for this class is the Socratic seminar. Values clarification is not the goal but a means. Moral Education (Values Testing) is the goal - there is no other 'hidden agenda.' This model does not imply "right answers" but asserts a) there are "better reasons" to moral dilemmas, b) these reasons should become more universal in application, and c) the individual is the sole responsible moral agent for all choices made. Bloom's Taxonomy of Hierarchical Thinking (cf. Ilayna Pickett & Toni Miller's module) is a logical link between Values Clarification and Moral Education. For more on the moral education model see Lois Glasscock's module.
a) There is something to be said for Kohlberg's view (known as Moral Education) that moral development is like cognitive development in that we constantly want 'better' reasons for our ethical choices. When confronted with reasoning that is more integrated or of a higher moral order, we experience moral cognitive dissidence and we demand better moral resolutions.
c) Kohlberg is not without critics. Carol Gilligan's In a Different Voice offers students a chance to consider whether her 'female-relationship ethic' is essentially different from Kohlberg's 'male justice' view.
I. The Realm of Ethics (see V. Student � Specific Sequence...)
[Reading #1 In class reading. Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation - Bioethic Institute handout July 1992 (=WW handout) "Rules of Seminar" + Jacob Monod on Science and Values, 3 pages. Spend the 1st seminar reinventing what the level and style of your seminar will be. Avoid students talking only to you. You are the 'guide on the side' not the 'sage on the stage' in seminar.]
[Reading #2 due Cycle 1. Start with Plato's Meno. If you omit the sections on teaching geometry you will not miss the essence of this dialogue which is a) learning to ask probing questions such as b) What is virtue? and c) Can virtue be taught? Avoid the debate over the historical Socrates and whether or not he is only playing with (lesser?) minds. Take the dialogue literally and focus on the questions and methods used. You will find at least two seminars of work here. You may use Euthyphro on 'piety' which naturally extends to the question of 'patriotism' or the 'justice' inquiry of Republic Book I as a substitute for Meno. Note: Have students consider the 25% value of reading prep as an ethical choice they can make now and then check on how they acted at the end of the semester.]
A. What is an ethical decision?
B. What are competing models? (I have chosen to present three models and have ignored the Relativist view as too hedonistic and the Divine Command models as too fundamentalistic.)
[Reading #3 due Cycle 2-3. Have students read Kieffer (WW handout, 44 pages). Sometimes as the 'sage on the stage' you will need to lecture. Kieffer's manuscript offers a concise and clear review on the competing global models but students will need your help. "How would the Duty Ethic folks decide?" "Can you see the view point of the Virtue Ethic dudes?" "How do you decide?" Which camp to you seem to be in?" "Do you switch camps depending on the situation?" "Why?"]
An assertion: The "human condition" is based on a quality, not on a structure. We are animals and with all that goes with the definition of the term but we are in a contradiction - we are aware of our own death and we want to know the what, why, and wherefore of things. We are philosophical animals. We create, discover and interpret meanings. This is our blessing. This is our curse. Our moral life becomes the history of our ethical choices. With the caveat: "All decisions are made with incomplete knowledge," I am choosing Virtue Ethics as the main ethical decision model and Moral Education as the teaching strategy for the following statements/questions/reasons:
C. What are essential ethical questions?
II. What is of Value?
[Reading #4 due during Cycles 4-5. Fletcher's Situation Ethics is a clear and passionate statement of the best of the Utilitarian model. Students can hang some thoughts and feelings on his view of:
[Readings #5 & #6 due Cycle 4. WW handouts on Values Clarification techniques and Moral Development
A. Values Clarification - Your imagination is your only limitation on generating exercises to aid students to begin to see what motivates them.
B. Value Testing = The Moral Education model where values are constantly challenged to be more inclusive of a hierarchy of human beneficence: myself, friends, community, nation, world.]
III. Issues of Science in Conflict with Society
[Reading #7 due Cycle 5. Kieffer's Biotechnology, Genetic Engineering and Society. Students will find this summary and glossary as basic back-ground for understanding biotechnological ethical dilemmas.]
[Reading #8 due during Cycles 5-7. Leopold's A Sand County Almanac is a classic of philosophy, science and of caring. If this journal does not move your students to reflection and responsible action, check them for brain waves.]
The choices of topics under the three broad areas of Environmental Crises, Biotechnology, and NRT's only serve as examples. Time, Newsweek, the local newspaper and T.V. will generate many more. If your work of guiding the seminar has been done well, your students will be 'in charge of their own learning.' If not, it's time to reinvent fire!
[Reading #9 due during Cycles 8-10. Choose one paperback. Some choices to consider:
[Reading #10 due during Cycle 11-13. Handouts on current NRT dilemmas.]
VII. Alternate Schedule
If you feel the need for more simulation, collaborative 'lab work,' or additional directed discussion, consider taking a cycle each from Environmental Crisis, Biotechnology, and New Reproductive Technologies and use these 3 cycles for either:
A. More Simulations
The NABT Sourcebook in Biotechnology,1991, offers a variety of choices.
B. Teacher Directed Discussions
The attention-grabbing neon headlines found daily in the media might not be what you want your students to deal with in class. If your question is, "What cultural trends make the 'neons' even thinkable? Or, what new (or future) technologies should be or should not be available to everybody?" consider:
VIII. Student Readings (Specific due dates on published Lesson Plan)
#1. Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation - Bioethics Institute '92, handout (= WW handout, 3 pages.). "Rules for a seminar," Sawhill's essay "On Ethics," and Jacob Monod's 11-point outline on how science destroyed some values but what does it leave in their place?
#2. Plato. Protagoras & Meno. Penguin Classics, Baltimore, MD. 142 pages (Euthyphro & Republic also by Penguin.)
#3. George Kieffer, 1992. "Ethical Decision Making Theories." A personal manuscript and a WW handout. 44 pages.
#4. Joseph Fletcher, 1966. Situation Ethics. Westminister Press. 176 pages.
#5 & 6. WW handouts. 20-30 pages of theory and practice on Values Clarification and Values Testing (=Moral Development). You choose.
#7. George Kieffer, 1987. Biotechnology, Genetic Engineering and Society. NABT. 85 pp.
#8. Aldo Leopold, 1949. The Sand County Almanac. Oxford University Press. 228 pages.
#9. Choose a paperback...some suggestions:
#10. Handouts generated by the controversies over NRT's. Your choice.
IX. Teacher Additional Readings
Adler, M. 1975. Aristotle For Everybody. Bantam Books.
Part II is a gentle introduction to Aristotle's notion of the difference between 'ends' & 'means,' the 'good' life, and virtuous living.
Beauchamp, et al. 1989. *Contemporary Issues in Bioethics. Wadsworth Pub. CA.
Frankena, W. 1973. Ethics Englewood Cliffs, NJ.
McCormick, S.J., R. 1985. How Brave a New World: Dilemmas in Bioethics.
A Catholic scholar's view on the most complexing problems. Paul Ramsey, Professor of Religion at Princeton U., states that McCormick's writings are " truly catholic and ecumenical in spirit." Ramsey intentionally used the small 'c.'
Potter, V. 1988. Global Bioethics. Michigan St. University Press.
Rachels, J. 1986. Understanding Moral Philosophy. Random House. This review I found to be a clear and readable resource.
Munson, R. 1992. *Basic Issues in Medical Ethics. Wadsworth Pub. CA.
Shannon, T. 1987. *Bioethics. 2nd Ed. Paulist Press.
* These works have a review of philosophical models of ethical decision-making followed by 400+ pages of moral dilemmas.
Journals, Reports & Workbooks
Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal. Johns Hopkins University Press.
The Hastings Center Reports, 255 Elm Rd., Briarcliff Manor, NY.
Jennings, et al. 1992. New Choices, New Responsibilities: Ethical Issues in the Life Sciences. A grant from Hoffmann-LaRoche Inc. NJ.
Duska, R. & Whelan, M. 1975. A Guide to Piaget And Kolhberg. Paulist Press.
Gilligan, C. 1982. In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory & Women's Development. Harvard University Press. Her works suggests that Kohlberg's model is 'male-justice' centered and that women's moral sense speaks in a different voice - 'female-relationship'.
Devall, B. & Sessions, G. 1985. Deep Ecology: Living as if Nature Mattered. G.M. Smiths, Inc, Salt Lake. The ecological based philosophy supporting the Green Movements.
Sergoff, M. 1975-1992. Choose from the 50+ articles published (cf., WW handout).
Suzuki, D. & Knudtson, P. 1989. Genethics: The Clash Between The New Genetics & Human Values, Harvard U. Press, MA.
OTA, 1991. Biotechnology in a Global Economy, Congress of the United States.
New Reproductive Technology
Blank, R. 1990. Regulation Reproduction. Columbia University Press, NY. Public policy questions are examined with a view toward a rational reproductive policy.
Hull, R. 1990. Ethical Issues in the New Reproductive Technologies. Wadsworth Pub., Belmont, CA. A solid review of the notion of claims followed by real case studies.