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Bio-ethics and the Animal/Human Boundary

AMST 260
Spring 2014
Section: 01  
Crosslisting: SISP 260
Certificates: Social, Cultural, and Critical Theory

In this course, we will explore the construction of the animal/human boundary through the lens of bioethics. We will define bioethics as the study of the ethical consideration of medical, scientific, and technological advances, and their effects on living beings. At the same time, we will pay close attention to the cultural contexts in which these advances emerge, imagining the realms of scientific progress and popular culture as mutually constitutive. We will consider topics such as cloning, organ transplantation, pharmaceutical testing, and gestational surrogacy, with a focus on the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries.

We will begin by interrogating how ideas of the "animal" and the "human" are constructed through biomedical and cultural discourses. We will ask: how is the human defined? By intelligence or consciousness levels? By physical capabilities or esoteric qualities? Similarly, how has the human been defined against ideas of the animal? Or, what ethical justifications have been cited in the use of animals in biomedicine? What makes certain species "proper" research subjects, and others not? What do these formulations tell us about our valuation of animal and human life, and what kinds of relationships exist between the two? In order to answer these questions, we will consult a wide range of interdisciplinary scholarship, from authors in the fields of Animal/ity Studies, bioethics and medicine/science history, sociology, anthropology, and philosophy. Students will also be exposed to the basics of biopolitical theory.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS AMST
Course Format: Lecture / DiscussionGrading Mode: Graded
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (AMST)
Past Enrollment Probability: 50% - 74%

Last Updated on APR-23-2014
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