PHIL2001 Bioethics

6 points
(see Timetable)
Semester 2UWA (Perth)Face to face
Details for undergraduate courses
  • Level 2 core unit in the Philosophy, Politics and Economics major sequence
  • Level 2 option in the Philosophy; Humanities in Health and Medicine major sequences
  • The area of knowledge for this unit are Life and Health Sciences, Society and Culture
  • Category A broadening unit for Bachelor of Arts students where relevant according to the broadening requirements for each student
  • Level 2 elective
This unit focuses on a set of related questions concerning life and death such as—Is it rational to fear death? What, if anything, gives human beings a special moral status? Do any other animals have a similar status? Is it morally acceptable to kill them for food? Is euthanasia, the killing of those who are incurably ill and in great pain or distress, for their own sake, morally justified? If so, under what circumstances exactly? What is the moral status of abortion? Students become familiar with some of the most influential works on such questions. As well as learning about such substantive issues, students also deepen their understanding of ethical reasoning in general, and sharpen their ability to understand, evaluate and construct arguments.
Students are able to (1) locate global moral issues in their historical and cultural context; (2) independently interpret philosophical texts; (3) evaluate philosophical positions, including identifying counter-examples and identifying and questioning their basic assumptions; (4) compare and contrast philosophical positions; (5) construct persuasive arguments; (6) demonstrate strong written communication and research skills; (7) gain knowledge about arguments in favor of, and in opposition to, abortion, euthanasia and animal vivisection; (8) explain influential philosophical views concerning the meaning of life and the harm of death; and (9) reason in a constructive and cooperative way about some of the most polarising moral issues.
Indicative assessments in this unit are as follows: (1) essay; (2) examination; and (3) participation. Further information is available in the unit outline.

Supplementary assessment is not available in this unit except in the case of a bachelor's pass degree student who has obtained a mark of 45 to 49 overall and is currently enrolled in this unit, and it is the only remaining unit that the student must pass in order to complete their course.
Unit Coordinator(s)
Dr Lachlan Umbers
Unit rules
any level 1 unit in the Bachelor of Arts,
PHIL2201 Social Ethics: Life and Death
Contact hours
lectures: 2 hours per week; tutorials: 1 hour per week
  • The availability of units in Semester 1, 2, etc. was correct at the time of publication but may be subject to change.
  • All students are responsible for identifying when they need assistance to improve their academic learning, research, English language and numeracy skills; seeking out the services and resources available to help them; and applying what they learn. Students are encouraged to register for free online support through GETSmart; to help themselves to the extensive range of resources on UWA's STUDYSmarter website; and to participate in WRITESmart and (ma+hs)Smart drop-ins and workshops.
  • Books and other material wherever listed may be subject to change. Book lists relating to 'Preliminary reading', 'Recommended reading' and 'Textbooks' are, in most cases, available via the Booktopia Textbook Finder, which has the functionality to search by course code, course, ISBN and title, and may also be posted or available at the appropriate school's administrative offices. Where texts are listed in the unit description above, an asterisk (*) indicates that the book is available in paperback.