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Welcome to Bioethics

Teacher: Dr Beng Flores

Duration: 10 classes

Dates: 2 – 7 January 2023


Learning Objectives

  • Describe the scope of bioethics in general and biomedical ethics in particular.
  • Understand the importance of ontology and ethics in formulating bioethical decisions.
  • Distinguish contemporary bioethical theories including the four principles from natural law approaches
  • Apply natural law principles to bioethical cases
  • Develop a broad conception of bioethics that also seeks to provide a foundation for medical ethics and for other practices, professions, and activities that directly affect human life (at least in the biomedical context)




Course Description

Bioethics concerns itself with addressing questions about basic human values such as the rights to life and health, and the rightness or wrongness of certain developments in healthcare institutions, life technology, medicine, the health professions and about society’s responsibility for the life and health of its members. It explores issues relating to the beginning and end of human life, as well as the manner life is lived including sexuality and gender, and the environment. A key question in bioethics is “Is it right or wrong to treat humans in a particular way?”. To answer this, we will need to consider carefully what kind of a being a human is. This is thinking bioethically.

Subject Program

January 2          Bioethics & Foundations
January 3          Bioethics of Reproductive Technologies
January 5          Bioethics of Contraception & Abortion
January 6          Bioethics of Euthanasia and Care for the Sick & Dying
January 7          Bioethics of Gender Identity

Full subject program available here | VIEW


  • Exam (includes short essay on case study & short answer questions)
  • Time: 2 hours
  • Weighting: Short essay 50%; Short answers 50%


Bibliography/Reading List



Gómez-Lobo A, Keown J (2015) Bioethics and the Human Goods: An Introduction to Natural Law Bioethics Georgetown University Press, 124 pp., ISBN:  978-1-62616-163-4 PDF available HERE

May WE (2013) Catholic Bioethics and the Gift of Human Life (Third Edition) Our Sunday Visitor, 384 pp., ISBN: 9781612787022 PDF available HERE

Monge, M (2014) Ethics in Medical Practice. Summary, Explanation & Defence of Concrete Ethical Problems (Second Edition) Sinag-tala Publishers, 336 pp., ISBN: 971-554-065-1


Magisterial Documents (Key ones in bold)


Beginning of life

Humanae vitae (Of Human Life)—Pope St. Paul VI (1968)

The Gift of Life (Donum Vitae) (1987) Instruction on respect for human life in its origin and on the dignity of procreation replies to certain questions of the day. Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Evangelium vitae (The Gospel of Life)—Pope St. John Paul II (1995)



Declaration on Euthanasia (1980) Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

Respect for the Dignity of the Dying (2000) Pontifical Academy for Life

Address on Life-Sustaining Treatments and the Vegetative State: Scientific Advances and Ethical Dilemmas—Pope St. John Paul II (2004)

Responses to Certain Questions of the USCCB concerning Artificial Nutrition and Hydration—Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (2007)

Samaritanus Bonus, On the care of persons in the critical and terminal phases of life (2020) Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith


General topics

Address to an International Conference on Organ Donation—Pope St. John Paul II (2000)

Dignitas personae (Instruction on Certain Bioethical Questions)—Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (2008)

New Charter for Catholic Health Care Workers—Pontifical Council for Pastoral Assistance to Health Care Workers (2017)

Some Principles of Collaboration with Non-Catholic Entities in the Provision of Catholic Health Care Services—Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith


Sexuality and Gender

Letter To The Bishops Of The Catholic Church On The Pastoral Care Of Homosexual Persons (1986) Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith

The Truth And Meaning Of Human Sexuality – Guidelines for Education within the Family (1995) The Pontifical Council For The Family

“Male and female He created them” (2019) Towards a path of dialogue
on the question of gender theory in education, Congregation for Catholic Education (for Educational Institutions)