Ethical Dilemmas in Life and Society

Subject PHIL20018 (2010)

Note: This is an archived Handbook entry from 2010.

Credit Points: 12.50
Level: 2 (Undergraduate)
Dates & Locations:

This subject has the following teaching availabilities in 2010:

Semester 2, Parkville - Taught on campus.
Pre-teaching Period Start not applicable
Teaching Period not applicable
Assessment Period End not applicable
Last date to Self-Enrol not applicable
Census Date not applicable
Last date to Withdraw without fail not applicable


Timetable can be viewed here. For information about these dates, click here.
Time Commitment: Contact Hours: Thirty-two contact hours per semester: two 1-hour lectures per week for the first 11 weeks and a 1-hour tutorial per week beginning the third week of semester
Total Time Commitment: An average of 8.5 hours each week.
Prerequisites: One first-year single-semester philosophy subject, or permission from the subject coordinator.
Corequisites: None.
Recommended Background Knowledge: There is no specific background knowledge required for enrolment in this subject.
Non Allowed Subjects:

Previously available at 3rd level with the code 672-345. Students who have completed 672-345 or Issues in Biomedical Ethics (161-024)

are not eligible to enrol in this subject.

Core Participation Requirements:

For the purposes of considering requests for Reasonable Adjustments under the Disability Standards for Education (Cwth 2005), and Students Experiencing Academic Disadvantage Policy, academic requirements for this subject are articulated in the Subject Description, Subject Objectives, Generic Skills and Assessment Requirements of this entry.

The University is dedicated to provide support to those with special requirements. Further details on the disability support scheme can be found at the Disability Liaison Unit website :

Subject Overview:

Many of the most important social and political issues confronting 21st century Australia generate ethical controversies. What are our obligations to the environment and to future generations? Are there limits we ought to respect with regard to the creation and destruction of life? How should wealth be distributed? Does the application of our scientific knowledge put important social goods at risk? This subject will provide a way of making sense of these controversies: it will discuss a number of particular issues, possibly including the status of mental illness, abortion, genetic screening and modification, euthanasia, global warming and the responsibilities of corporations.


Students who successfully complete this subject will

  • be familiar with the philosophical debate on selected topics in applied ethics.
  • understand the way in which philosophical reasoning can be applied to controversies in applied ethics.
  • have demonstrated the ability to think and write clearly on selected topics in applied ethics.

Assessment: A written assignment of 2000 words 50% (due mid-semester), a 2-hour written examination 50% (at the end of semester).
Prescribed Texts:

A subject reader will be available from the bookshop at the start of semester.

Breadth Options:

This subject potentially can be taken as a breadth subject component for the following courses:

You should visit learn more about breadth subjects and read the breadth requirements for your degree, and should discuss your choice with your student adviser, before deciding on your subjects.

Fees Information: Subject EFTSL, Level, Discipline & Census Date
Generic Skills:
  • develop the ability to analyse and critique arguments.
  • be able to think and write rigorously, imaginatively and coherently on issues of public controversy.
  • have an appreciation of the way in which philosophical theory can inform reasoned discussion of matters of ethical importance and public controversy.
Links to further information:
Notes: This subject satisfies the third-year breadth requirement for third-year students in the Bachelor of Science and Bachelor of Biomedicine when taken in 2010 only.
Related Course(s): Postgraduate Certificate in Professional Ethics
Postgraduate Diploma in Professional Ethics
Related Majors/Minors/Specialisations: History && Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science
History and Philosophy of Science Major
Philosophy Major
Philosophy and Social Theory

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