Issues in Biology and Bioethics
A great deal of the confusion that results from contemporary biotechnological "advances" and attends contemporary bioethical deliberation can be attributed to the unsatisfactory answers often (tacitly) given by biology and bio-philosophy to more fundamental questions: What is life? What is an organism, and how does it differ from a machine? What is the principle of organic unity, and how are we to understand the relation between parts and wholes in living things? In what sense is the world of living things hierarchical? This course will draw on important texts in natural philosophy and biology from Aristotle to the twenty-first century in order to address these questions, and will ponder various issues raised in modern and contemporary bioscience and bioethics in light of the answers. Readings may include Aristotle, C. Darwin, C. Barnard, Darwin, Goethe, H. Driesch, H. Jonas, R. Dawkins, B. Goodwin, and R. George.