Philosophy of Mind, Life and Death


Course Objective

The student:
• acquires knowledge of central approaches to medical ethics;
• acquires knowledge of challenges and possible applications of
technology, in particular neuroscience, in health care;
• acquires insight in concepts of decision-making competences,
autonomy, and responsibility in health care;
• acquires insight in different conceptions of medical ethics, in
particular value-based practice;
• acquires competence in identifying and analysing conceptual and
normative (value-laden) issues in medical practice (dilemmas),
especially in areas mentioned
• acquires competence in written and oral analysis of and
communication about these issues;
• acquires competence in sound and valid reasoning on these issues.

Course Content

The course consists of three elements: (1) an introduction to central
conceptions of medical ethics, and of values-based practice in
particular; (2) an overview of core issues in healthcare professional -
patient interaction, concerning mind, life, and death; and (3) relevant
themes in neuroethics.

The aim of the first element is to clarify how medicine can be
understood as a normative and values-based practice. Clinical ethics
consists of more than just the application of ethical norms or rules to
a particular situation. Ethical advice and decision making depends on
careful delineation and balancing of norms and value-laden views that
are inherent to medical practice.

The second element informs the student about the (implicit) views of
mind, (human) life, and decision-making competence in medical practice.
For instance, ethical issues concerning coercive measures in psychiatry
are discussed; autonomy and responsibility are crucial terms here.

The third element of the course deals with current discussions in
neuroethics (which have huge impact on the general public). Topics
that will be discussed are: free will, embodiment; the application of
deep brain stimulation; neuroenhancement.

Teaching Methods

Writing a paper (final assignment); interactive
lectures/courses; videos; study of literature;presentation
(assignment); group discussion.

Method of Assessment

Assignment: presentation (15%) and final paper, approx. 3000 words (85%)


Some chapters from K. W. M. Fulford, Edward Peile, Heidi Carroll.
Essential Values-Based
Practice. Clinical Stories Linking Science with People. Cambridge, 2012.
(online, VU Library)
Several articles that will be available online (VU Library).

General Information

Course Code W_MASP_PBH1
Credits 6 EC
Period P1
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator prof. dr. G. Meynen
Examiner prof. dr. G. Meynen
Teaching Staff prof. dr. G. Meynen

Practical Information

You need to register for this course yourself

Last-minute registration is available for this course.

Teaching Methods Lecture
Target audiences

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