AK2008 Ethics of Biotechnology 7.5 credits

Bioteknologins etik

This course focuses on the ethical aspects of biotechnology. 

The first part of the course - (lectures 1-3 and seminar 1 - provide an introduction to moral philosophy. Normative theories like utilitarianism, duty ethics and virtue ethics are explained and problematized. We will also discuss other useful distinctions and notions in moral philosophy e.g. moral dilemmas, action guiding and moral relativism. 

The second part of the course (lectures 4-10 and seminars 2-4) focus on specific ethical problems and challenges in the field of biotechnology. These sessions are a mix between traditional lecturing and classroom discussions and the students are expected to partake actively. Topics include: ownership of biological material, ethics of different usage of gene technology, human enhancement, technology in healthcare (e.g. carebots) etc. We will also discuss concepts such as rights, justice, naturalness, privacy, autonomy, and risk.

An important part of this course is the course essay which is written individually by the student but supervised by the teacher. This gives the student an opportunity to apply ethical theory and analyze ethical issues attaching to a specific technology which is relevant for their education and of special interest to them. The essay is written throughout the course and each student will get feedback both from the teacher and another student during the work so that they can improve their essay before handing it in. 

  • Education cycle

    Second cycle
  • Main field of study

  • Grading scale

    A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Course offerings

Autumn 19 for programme students

  • Periods

    Autumn 19 P1 (4.0 credits), P2 (3.5 credits)

  • Application code

    50227

  • Start date

    26/08/2019

  • End date

    14/01/2020

  • Language of instruction

    English

  • Campus

    KTH Campus

  • Tutoring time

    Daytime

  • Form of study

    Normal

  • Number of places *

    5 - 25

    *) The Course date may be cancelled if number of admitted are less than minimum of places. If there are more applicants than number of places selection will be made.

  • Planned timeslots

    P1: I1, J1, I2, J2. P2: H1, I1, H2, I2. more info

    This course is coordinated with AK2011. In practice, only modules J1 and J2 are used in study period 1, and only modules H1 and I1 are used in study period 2.

  • Course responsible

    Barbro Fröding <barbro.froding@abe.kth.se>

  • Teacher

    Jesper Jerkert <jesper.jerkert@abe.kth.se>

Autumn 19 for single courses students - To application

  • Periods

    Autumn 19 P1 (4.0 credits), P2 (3.5 credits)

  • Application code

    10003

  • Start date

    26/08/2019

  • End date

    14/01/2020

  • Language of instruction

    English

  • Campus

    KTH Campus

  • Tutoring time

    Daytime

  • Form of study

    Normal

  • Number of places *

    6 - 6

    *) The Course date may be cancelled if number of admitted are less than minimum of places. If there are more applicants than number of places selection will be made.

  • Course responsible

    Barbro Fröding <barbro.froding@abe.kth.se>

  • Teacher

    Jesper Jerkert <jesper.jerkert@abe.kth.se>

  • Application

    Apply for this course at antagning.se through this application link.
    Please note that you need to log in at antagning.se to finalize your application.

Autumn 18 for programme students

  • Periods

    Autumn 18 P1 (4.0 credits), P2 (3.5 credits)

  • Application code

    50027

  • Start date

    27/08/2018

  • End date

    14/01/2019

  • Language of instruction

    English

  • Campus

    KTH Campus

  • Tutoring time

    Daytime

  • Form of study

    Normal

  • Number of places *

    5 - 25

    *) The Course date may be cancelled if number of admitted are less than minimum of places. If there are more applicants than number of places selection will be made.

  • Schedule

    Schedule (new window)

  • Planned timeslots

    P1: I1, J1, I2, J2. P2: H1, I1, H2, I2. more info

    This course is coordinated with AK2011. In practice, only modules J1 and J2 are used in study period 1, and only modules H1 and I1 are used in study period 2.

  • Course responsible

    Barbro Fröding <barbro.froding@abe.kth.se>

  • Teacher

    Jesper Jerkert <jesper.jerkert@abe.kth.se>

  • Part of programme

Autumn 18 for single courses students

  • Periods

    Autumn 18 P1 (4.0 credits), P2 (3.5 credits)

  • Application code

    10079

  • Start date

    27/08/2018

  • End date

    14/01/2019

  • Language of instruction

    English

  • Campus

    KTH Campus

  • Tutoring time

    Daytime

  • Form of study

    Normal

  • Number of places *

    6 - 6

    *) The Course date may be cancelled if number of admitted are less than minimum of places. If there are more applicants than number of places selection will be made.

  • Schedule

    Schedule (new window)

  • Planned timeslots

    P1: I1, J1, I2, J2. P2: H1, I1, H2, I2. more info

  • Course responsible

    Barbro Fröding <barbro.froding@abe.kth.se>

  • Teacher

    Jesper Jerkert <jesper.jerkert@abe.kth.se>

Intended learning outcomes

After completed course the student should be able to

  • outline the basic theories and concepts of moral philosophy, and apply those theories and concepts on problems in the field of biotechnology,
  • identify and discuss in a critical manner, orally as well as in written form, ethical problems in the field of biotechnology,
  • assess the quality of arguments put forth in the field of biotechnology and argue, in an independent and structured way, for or against possible positions held on central issues,
  • analyse, independently and in written form, a philosophical problem or area of inquiry related to biotechnology.

Course main content

The course falls in two parts. The first part gives a background in moral philosophy, introducing normative theories like utilitarianism, duty ethics and virtue ethics, etc. The second part departs from practical ethical questions in the field of biotechnology. Questions to be discussed include: Is there an ethical difference between therapeutic and reproductive cloning? Should research on stem cells be legal? Are we the owners of our bodies and if so, should we be allowed to sell our bodily organs? How does gene technology affect the possibilities of giving everyone fair chances in life? How should we cope with risks associated with gene technology? The practical problems dealt with in the course will have influence on discussions of concepts such as rights, justice, ownership, naturalness, integrity, autonomy, and risk.

Disposition

Lectures, seminars, and individual essay writing (under supervision).

The course starts only if a sufficient number of students have applied for it.

Eligibility

120 credits academic studies in technology or natural science, including documented proficiency in Swedish (Swedish 3) and English  (English 6).

Literature

Kurslitteratur anslås på kursens hemsida senast fyra veckor innan kursstart.

Examination

  • DEL1 - Attendance, 1.5, grading scale: P, F
  • TEN1 - Examination, 3.0, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F
  • ÖVN1 - Homework, 3.0, grading scale: A, B, C, D, E, FX, F

Requirements for final grade

  • Attendance (DEL1; 1,5 cr)
  • Exam (TEN1; 3 cr)
  • Essay (ÖVN1; 3 cr)

Offered by

ABE/Philosophy

Contact

Barbro Fröding, 08-790 9596, barbro.froding@abe.kth.se

Examiner

John Cantwell <john.cantwell@abe.kth.se>

Version

Course syllabus valid from: Autumn 2013.
Examination information valid from: Autumn 2007.