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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Jan. 15, 1976)
thursday, january 15, 1976
New course to explore
world of medical ethics
By Ron Ruggless
If two people need a kidney for a trans
plant, and only one is available, which per
son should get it?
If marriage between two people who are
severely mentally deficient allowable?
Should these marriages be covered by a
Questions like these arise frequently in
the world of medicine. A new three-hour
course in medical ethics will deal with such
problems, according to instructor Robert
Audi, UNL philosophy dept. chairman.
"It is a study of many kinds of prob
lems arising in medical practice, from the
point of view of moral philosophy," Audi
"Nebraska is among the first universit
ies" to offer such a course to students in
any major, Audi said.
Through discussion and lecture, he said
he will cover areas of medical ethics rang
ing from abortion to the patient's right to
live or die.
Advancement in science and technology
have complicated medical ethics, he said.
"It is no longer possible to regard the
definition of death as we used to regard
it," he said. Cessation of vital signs (heart
beat, breathing, etc.) used to designate
death, he said, but now, since machines can
reverse those signs, it is questionable when
Medicine is "an area of growing issues
that needs philosophical attention," he
Audi said his class will consider the
moral questions surrounding experimenta
tion with human subjects, biological en
gineering (selective breeding and gene alter
ation), intermarriage and sterilization of
mentally "incompetent" persons, behavior
control, transplantation and the allocation
of limited organs and medical resources.
The course also will examine the physi
cian's role, what influence, if any, he has
over patients and the community and in
what cases he would be obligated to tell
authorities information that ordinarily is
private about a patient.
Audi said the course is being offered be
cause all students are realizing medicine is a
force in society and offers a fruitful area
for application of moral philosophy.
A physician, a lawyer, a biological
scientist and perhaps a social scientist will
speak to the class, he said. He also said he
plans to have informal discussions in a cen
tral location, such as the Nebraska Union.
"You don't have to be studying medi
cine to be in this course," Audi said. "A lot
of the issues in the course deal with pro
blems of the ordinary citizen."
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