Foundations of Ethics for Biotechnology (2020/2021)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Carlo Chiurco
Carlo Chiurco
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II semestre dal Mar 1, 2021 al Jun 11, 2021.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

Ethics is the branch of philosophy concerned with the study of the foundations and purposes of human agency. Through his actions, not only man builds his place and his meaning within the world, but also constantly reshapes the very meaning of the world. Western science is precisely the biggest reshaping of the world and its meaning ever enacted by mankind; as a consequence, ethical questions of enormous importance are necessarily embedded in it. Students will acquire a basic knowledge of the main concepts of ethics and how to articulate them. They will also acquire a basic knowledge of the main ethical and bioethical questions concerning scientific research, with particular reference to the problems and questions involving the three curricula of the course. Finally, they will acquire a sufficient ability to critically analyze these questions and autonomously form their opinions on them.


Classes will be held physically and/or, in case of protracted emergency, virtually, using the tools provided by the university. They consist of reading and discussing texts of different authors and periods; such activities may also include the usage of slides, and also movie projections. Classes will also entail the discussion of bioethical case-studies, with a special consideration for the ones concerning biotechnologies, in which students will be invited to actively take part, both at individual or group level, and discuss them.
Students are expected to learn the following knowledge:
what is philosophy, what is ethics, what is bioethics, what’s the difference between them and empirical sciences, the main lines of Western ethics;
and the following abilities:
autonomous critical judgement on ethical and bioethical problems, especially the ones concerning biotechnologies, in properly critical and philosophical terms;
may grasp the various conceptions and subjects dealt with during the course, as well as a critically based approach to the texts of the course that takes into account a proper historical and hermeneutical background.
Students who cannot attend classes are not asked to follow a different program.
Beside reading the course texts, students are required to listen to the audio- (or watch the video-) -files of the classes found on the university e-learning website.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Adriano Pessina Bioetica. L'uomo sperimentale (Edizione 3) Pearson 2020

Assessment methods and criteria

The final examination will consist of an oral examination about the topics dealt with during the course. Students are warmly encouraged to produce a handout during the course: in this case, it will form part of the evaluation.