Moral Reasoning in Health Care


Course Objective

Cognitive goals Student acquire knowledge of:
-recent developments in moral philosophy and their relevance for the
field of clinical ethics;
-interactive approaches to moral philosophy (virtue ethics, dialogical
-theory and methodology of empirical ethics research (reflective
equilibrium, dialogical empirical ethics);
-methods of reflection and reasoning relevant for clinical ethics,
including Moral Case Deliberation.
Behavioural goals Students acquire competence in:
-comparing theoretical views on moral argumentation and reasoning;
-applying various ethical approaches to clinical cases;
-participating in Moral Case Deliberation;
-developing moral awareness and sensitivity concerning clinical practice

Course Content

Medical ethics is practical, in that it starts from actual problems in
healthcare, and tries to develop ways of dealing with these problems. It
aims to reflect on practice, and to provide normative directions for
practice. Although all approaches in medical ethics are focused on
healthcare practice, we can distinguish between those approaches which
emphasize theoretical reasoning as a means to improve practice, and
those that emphasize the mutual relationship between moral argumentation
and moral practice. In this course we will focus on the latter
approaches, such as virtue ethics and dialogical ethics. We will
investigate their theoretical background, as well as their applications
in ethics research and in clinical ethics. Recent approaches in
empirical ethics take into account the situatedness of moral dilemmas
and the limitations of moral reasoning. They emphasize that our moral
convictions are based upon a prior understanding of the world, which is
enacted in a shared practice. Empirical ethics is based upon moral
experience. Moral arguments refer to experience, and aim to make
explicit practical knowledge. Moral reasoning can clarify why we
experience moral tensions, and help us to find shared ways of dealing
with them.
The course focuses on moral reasoning in healthcare practice. Healthcare
professionals make moral decisions about treatment and care. What makes
moral decisions good or right? These questions will be addressed from
the perspective of virtue ethics, dialogical ethics and empirical
ethics. The course also introduces tools for moral argumentation and

Teaching Methods

- Lectures;
- Text excerpt readings;
- Case discussions

Method of Assessment

Exam (40%), Paper (60%).


The literature will be specified in the course manual.

General Information

Course Code W_MASP_PBH4
Credits 6 EC
Period P2
Course Level 500
Language of Tuition English
Faculty Faculty of Humanities
Course Coordinator drs. S. Metselaar
Examiner drs. S. Metselaar
Teaching Staff K. Labib MA
drs. S. Metselaar
prof. dr. G.A.M. Widdershoven
G. Inguaggiato MA

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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