Summer 2024 - HSCI 319W E100

Applied Health Ethics (3)

Class Number: 2849

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    May 6 – Aug 2, 2024: Thu, 4:30–6:20 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    45 units including nine HSCI units with a minimum grade of C-, one of which must be a 200-division course.



Practical ethical and legal issues in health sciences, emphasizing population and public health. Case studies approach highlighting current ethical dilemmas and decision-making in the context of global to local legal frameworks. HSCI 319 is identical to PHIL 319 and students cannot receive credit for both courses. Writing.


Health is rather important. To most people their health is important to them, and to all of us, the health of the human populations to which we belong is important—it is probably not too hard to get people to agree that it is better to live in a society with healthy people than with unhealthy people. So, it might straightforwardly appear that we ought to, morally speaking, is simply make ourselves and others healthy and preserve that health.

The difficulty is that health is complicated—one’s own and that of others. At an individual level, we have to weigh our other various life projects against our mental and physical health. At the level of public policy, we have to choose which outcomes are most important to us—disease control, average life expectancy, obesity rates, maintaining a productive populace, etc.—and then attempt to achieve those outcomes while balancing them against other concerns—economic, criminal, political, etc. And all of this already assumes that we know what ‘health’ is, but ‘health’ itself is likely itself complicated and there are likely more than one view of what it is to be ‘healthy.’

To begin addressing these complexities, we will become familiar with a number of classic moral frameworks that we can apply to help solve the various problems faced in the maintenance and administration of ‘health’ at the personal and policy level. Then we will also look at some particular moral and ethical issues regarding health—harm reduction, medically assisted death, and vaccination. We will also interrogate the nature of epidemiology, and the notion of ‘health’ itself as a value laden concept in order to develop an appropriately nuanced view of the relationships between what health is, why it is a human good, and what we ought to do regarding the health of ourselves and others.


By the end of this course students should:
-Understand of the basic moral theories we will cover.
-Understand the moral problems in Health Ethics that we will discuss.
-Learn to apply the moral theories we cover this term to these problems and understand how they differ in application and in the solutions they provide.
-Learn to critically evaluate the answers these moral theories, and those working more intuitively, provide to these problems.
-Develop and refine academic writing skills, particularly with respect to clearly articulating moral points of view and their application to challenging problems in Health Ethics.


  • Tutorial participation 15%
  • Final paper (with revision) 35%
  • Midterm 25%
  • Moral reflection 25%

Registrar Notes:


SFU’s Academic Integrity website is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating. Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the university community. Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the university. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the university.