Dilemmas in Bio-Medical Ethics: Playing God or Doing Good?

A white doctor gives a shot in the arm of an elderly black man.

From 1932 to 1972, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment studied the progression of untreated syphilis in 600 rural African American men who thought they were receiving free health care from the U.S. government. (Photo by U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Source: National Archives.)


MIT Course Number

21A.302J / WGS.271J

As Taught In

Fall 2013



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Course Description

Course Features

Course Description

This course is an introduction to the cross-cultural study of biomedical ethics, examining moral foundations of the science and practice of Western biomedicine through case studies of abortion, contraception, cloning, organ transplantation and other issues. It evaluates challenges that new medical technologies pose to the practice and availability of medical services around the globe, and to cross-cultural ideas of kinship and personhood. Also discussed are critiques of the biomedical tradition from anthropological, feminist, legal, religious, and cross-cultural theorists.

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Related Content

Erica James. 21A.302J Dilemmas in Bio-Medical Ethics: Playing God or Doing Good?. Fall 2013. Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare, https://ocw.mit.edu. License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

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