Background and Resources

Subtopic 1: Ethics and Values

Activity 1.1

Activity 1.2

Activity 1.3

Subtopic 2: Bioethical Problems Identification

Activity 2.1

Activity 2.2

Activity 2.3

Subtopic 3: Methods and Strategies for Decision-Making

Activity 3.1

Activity 3.2

Activity 3.3

Module Summary

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Module Summary

The focus of this topic, namely how bioethics is confronted with opposing questions of value when dealing with public health issues, allows multiple variations in teaching its philosophical content. The connection the module makes between that content and actual community concerns amplifies that flexibility.

The three subtopics are intended as guides for how to present as complete a picture of the main topic as possible by contextualizing it in terms that allow an instructor to introduce his or her own understanding within a broadly construed framework of ethical inquiry and decision-making. Subtopic 1's presentation of Ethics and Values focuses on the general nature of values and the three primary methods found today for distinguishing ethical values from those that have no particular ethical basis. Subtopic 2 then applies that knowledge to an actual issue confronting public health planners and providers in every state of the United States, namely the situation with funding for ADAP programs, and related issues of research and drugs.

It is here that philosophical differences most clearly emerge with the appearance of opposing sides in attempting to deal with the problem. It is also the most challenging section of the module in that it requires students to view these opposing sides in terms that limit their questioning to three basic methods for establishing belief. Subtopic 3 takes up the specific problems of bio-ethical decision-making in public health by introducing students to three distinct approaches, none of which may be sufficient in and of themselves to identify and clearly account ethical principles and values. That question is deliberately left unanswered in the hope that it will produce a basis for ongoing questioning of the topic and how we as a society go about addressing it.