In this course, students will learn some of the basic principles of classical and molecular genetics and discuss the impact of genetics from philosophical, social, medical, legal and biological perspectives. Our aim is to help students develop the scientific background needed to understand new developments in genetics and their applications in medicine, reproductive technologies, and agriculture, and to develop the philosophical skills needed to critically reflect on the social and ethical implications of genetics and associated technologies.
In the Science and Ethics of Genetics, students will study genetics from two distinct disciplinary perspectives – biology and philosophy – while also gaining an understanding of how these disciplines mutually inform one another. In particular, the course will show that ethical questions associated with stem cell research, genetic testing, gene therapy, and assisted reproduction cannot be answered effectively in the absence of basic biological understanding. Conversely, decisions about how to conduct research in biology and how to apply biotechnologies are impoverished in the absence of thoughtful, ethical reflection. This course will assist students in developing the scientific and philosophical literacy necessary to make thoughtful and informed assessments – from both personal and political perspectives – about biotechnology and its role in our lives.
Also listed as: BY100