Environmental Ethics

What is sustainability? Who is responsible for acting on climate change? What should we as individuals do, if anything? What is our relationship with nature? Is Earth a “natural resource,” or something more?

In this course we explore timely and complex questions about the relationships between humans, animals, and nature from multiple points of view. This course is well-suited for students of all backgrounds who are curious about our place in the world.

Using the tools of logic and reasoning, and key ideas from scholars such as Winona La Duke, Robert Bullard, Aldo Leopold, and Robin Wall Kimmerer, as well as classic ideas from John Locke, John Stuart Mill, and Harriet Taylor, students successfully completing this course will gain practice in written communication and critical thinking, and will be able to apply environmental theories to real world solutions. 122 Syllabus

Biomedical Ethics

We each have a body. Our bodies will change, break, heal, and, eventually, leave us. Many of us will have the privilege to create new bodies, to care for the bodies of loved ones and strangers, and to be cared for by others. How can we ensure that care is respectful, meaningful, and effective? How can we avoid the immoral mistakes of the past (and present)? This course explores classical issues of Biomedical Ethics, including how health care professionals relate to patients, the ethics of end of life care, views on disability and difference, informed consent while making difficult medical decisions, and the risks of exploitation when conducting human and animal research. We will explore how much variation there is in the human body (variation that is often hidden from view), as well as the history of how race and power has affected what medical treatment is available to whom. Using the tools of logic and reasoning, and ethical frameworks from philosophers such as Immanuel Kant, Aristotle, John Stuart Mill, Harriet Taylor, Carol Gilligan, and Adrienne Asch, as well as the Four Principles of Bioethics, students successfully completing this course will be able to discuss difficult medical situations from several points of view, articulate those points of view as well as offer critiques of them, and help others explore and understand the nuances of the many ethical dilemmas we face. 265 Syllabus 365 Syllabus

Previous courses

Philosophy of Science

Introduction to Philosophy

History and Philosophy of Science Capstone Course

Practical Reasoning and Critical Thinking

Seminar on Teaching Philosophy

Global Health Ethics



Student comments:

(used with permission):

PHIL 122 Environmental Ethics

“I highly recommend Monica Aufrecht’s Philosophy 122 – Environmental Ethics. Above all else, the course is incredibly well designed for this online world we find ourselves in. The weekly readings are chosen with care, and are always interesting. If you find a topic you’re really interested in, plenty of optional readings are provided. Once you’ve finished reading, you have the choice of multiple discussion prompts to reflect on the reading in the areas you’re most drawn to, and the lectures each week help put the core concepts in more concrete terms. This all makes it a class where you really can get out of it as much as you put into it.

On top of that, the material is fascinating. Those with strong feelings about conservation and climate change (on either side) especially will enjoy this class’ deep exploration of how academic philosophy regards the relationship of humans and nature, and how we should act as a result. Your beliefs won’t escape unchallenged.
While not required, I highly recommend taking Tim Linneman’s Philosophy 102 – Contemporary Moral Issues first. Tim is an excellent instructor, and his class will give you a good baseline understanding of how moral philosophy operates that will make the issues of extending it to other creatures all the more interesting.

I can’t promise you’ll use either of these courses in your job, but you’ll definitely use them in your life. If you can find time in your schedule, they’ll definitely be worth your while.”

-Seamus Allen, “Staff Picks: Bellevue College Courses We Love” in the The WatchDog, February 23, 2021.

PHIL 365 Biomedical Ethics: Theory & Practice w/ research component

“I have been telling everyone how phenomenal this course has been! … Lots of your feedback during discussions, the ‘who is moral patient but not seen as one?’ and The Banality of Evil. … So much great information. I can’t thank you enough.” Jesse, 365

“I never imagined what impact this class would have on the way that I view things, and I wish I had room in my schedule to take more like it!” – Lisa, 365

“You have been one of the most thorough and helpful professors I have had…. I really appreciate your thorough guidance and feedback… our comments definitely helped clarify the material and provided me with a clear understanding of where I went wrong and direction for how to proceed.”  Bridget, 365

“What I did not know or understand is the abuse that was done in the name of research to the African American population in the past. I found this appalling and very disturbing. …As a healthcare professional, I strive to treat everyone with respect and dignity… Don’t you love classes that make you think!” – Student in Phil 365

PHIL 265 Biomedical Ethics

“This course made me realize that disabled individuals can have just as meaningful a life as any other. It made me realize through the social model of disability, that we have structured it to seem as though people need to bend themselves to fit into the molds society wants people to be. But the problem we’re faced with are these constructs of society.” – Alexandra, Phil 265

“I had never heard of Henrietta Lacks, and knew little of the Tuskegee experiment. It was eye opening to read about. Working as a nurse, I think it has changed the way I approach people now.” – Student in Phil 265

“This course has taught me so much about critical thinking and understanding opposing views….This class has been so invaluable and I think the skills I’ve learned are skills that I will definitely use in my future.” – Student in Phil 265

“My own ethics are very personal to me, and I have never felt comfortable debating or arguing an issue based on them, but with the moral frameworks and principles we have learned in this class, I now would feel much more comfortable debating a moral issue with more to draw on than my own personal feelings.” – Ellen, Phil 265

“I used to believe in actions that are for the greater good of society, what actions will make us all prosper. Before this class, this belief of mine knew no limits, I used to think that any action that was for the greater good was morally right, until well…. until we discussed the organ donor situation and I was like… whoa ! … This totally changed my views on greater good scenarios and led me to study Mill’s principle in detail… and led me to understand how delicate everything is. It is not just one principle or theory of morality, rather it is complicated interwoven web of principles and theories that overlap with one another. Every theory has to be kept in check, yet all of them together have to be used directly or indirectly in a perfect balance and  order to deem an action moral or immoral. This course was a very good eye opener to the world of bioethics and the complexity shrouding it. I am very grateful that I had the opportunity to take it.” – Mohammad, Phil 265