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.


The course is divided in two parts.
The first part (consisting approx. of ten lessons) is an introduction to philosophy (what is about, its object, its methodology), ethics, the relation between philosophy and empirical sciences, the relation between ethics and empirical sciences, and bioethics.
Teaching methodology will consist of readings and discussion of philosophical texts.
The second part will delve into various bioethical case studies, in particular concerning CRISPR, ethics of environment, and medical bioethics. Each case will be discussed, and students are invited to actively take part in the discussion, both individually or at group level.
Lessons may employ multi-media tools (power points, movies).

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.