Suggested Readings – Introduction to Bioethics

Recently I gave a lecture on medical ethics as part of the IDC 201: History of Medicine course which direct entrants to the Integrated Liberal Arts and Medicine (INTARMED) Program take in their last semester before moving on to medicine proper.

In this page you’ll find the slide deck used as well as suggested articles for further learning.

These materials are supplementary but not necessary for the exam and reflection paper which are required of the students. I hope you find these helpful in pursuing the good of knowledge.

Learning Outcomes

At the end of the session, the student should be able to:

  1. Describe the scope of medical ethics and bioethics
  2. Distinguish bioethical theories including the four principles and natural law approaches
  3. Apply natural law principles to selected bioethical cases

Slide Deck

Video clips used in the presentation

  • “Is abortion available up to birth for Down’s syndrome?” from A World Without Down Syndrome – YouTube
  • “Sally Phillips interviews mother of child with Down’s syndrome” from A World Without Down Syndrome – YouTube
  • “Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment” from Vlogs of History – YouTube
  • “Extremis” Trailer – YouTube
  • “Mary Takes a Bullet” from Sherlock: The Six Thatchers – YouTube

Suggested Materials

Introduction to Bioethics

Oaths and Pledges

  • Hippocratic Oath: Quaint Relic or Solemn Vow?Link – This analysis of the Hippocratic Oath highlights the virtues embodied in the text.
  • World Medical Association (WMA) Updates Hippocratic OathLink – This short article highlights differences between the 1948 and 2017 versions of the oath (or pledge) used by doctors across the world: more emphasis on autonomy, less on the beginning of life, and a shift towards positive law rather than universal natural law.
  • Philippine Medical Association (PMA) Code of EthicsLink
  • Philippine College of Physicians (PCP) Code of EthicsLink

Beginning of Life Issues

  • No more Down Syndrome in IcelandLink
  • Do pro-lifers have the abortion argument all wrong?Link – This post discusses philosopher Peter Kreeft’s “apple argument”.
  • The Embryo Before the PhysicianLink
  • In Vitro Fertilization and the Welfare of EmbryosLink

End of Life Issues

  • The family said, “Do everything.”Link – In this story, a woman with dementia who previously gave a do not resuscitate (DNR) order is neglected at home, arrests and becomes unable to decide for himself. Her son who becomes the surrogate decision-maker reverses the DNR.
  • Charlie Gard: Doing the right thing for the right reason (press statement from the Anscombe Bioethics Centre)Link


  • Physicians Without Chests: On the End to Call Conscientious Objection in MedicineLink – The authors criticize an argument that conscientious objection should be abolished because because of its difference in medicine and in the military. They argue that physicians who oppose certain practices in the profession should not be prevented from practicing altogether.

Asian and Filipino Bioethics

  • Does Asia have a distinctive bioethics?Link
  • Justice and healthcare: When ordinary is extraordinaryLink
  • Another look at “Seven Sundays”: Lessons in Filipino BioethicsLink – This movie gives viewers a peek at how bioethics operates within the Filipino culture.

Natural Law

  • Natural Law for Dummies Part ILink
  • Natural Law for Dummies Part IILink
  • The New Natural Law TheoryLink – This philosophical paper introduces the reader to this branch of the natural law tradition.

Useful Websites

  • BioEdge – This site usually publishes short news and commentaries that helps you keep updated with the latest happenings in bioethics.
  • The Public Discourse – This is the online journal of The Witherspoon Institute. They publish articles on political and ethical issues occasionally touching on bioethics.

One thought on “Suggested Readings – Introduction to Bioethics

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s