MR 404 - The Catholic Moral Tradition and Bioethics

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Module Level


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Time Allowance

4 hours on campus lectures during the weekend residentials (divided between 2 weekends) 6 hours live on-line lectures on Wednesday evening, 6 hours of self-directed learning, Assignment – 15 hours, Private Study – 24 hours.



Module Aims


This module aims to further unpack the Catholic Moral Tradition through the engagement with contemporary topics in the area of bioethics. An early definition stated that Bio-ethics is the “critical examination of the moral dimensions of decision-making in health-related contexts and in contexts involving the biological sciences” (S. Gorovitz). This module explores the intersection of the Catholic Moral Tradition with the field of medicine (bio-ethics) and normative theories of human conduct (bio-ethics).

Indicative Syllabus

  • Models of Nature, Technology and Medicine
  • Ethical Theories as they apply to the field of Health Care
  • Conscience and Moral Decision Making
  • Key principles in bioethics and healthcare ethics: autonomy, beneficence, dignity.
  • Current trends in healthcare: resource allocation, legal developments, cultural changes, codes of behaviour
  • Contemporary Topical Issues.

Learning Outcomes

  • Evaluate and display a critical awareness of current trends and issues in contemporary healthcare, clinical practice and biomedical research
  • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of a range of ethical theories and principles operating in the field of Health Care
  • Apply and appraise various frameworks for dealing with ethical problems, challenges and dilemmas in health care
  • Consider the resources proposed by spiritual practices and religious traditions, especially the Catholic tradition.


  • Ashley, Benedict M & O’Rourke, Kevin D., Health Care Ethics: A Theological Analysis, Catholic Health Association of US, 1997.
  • Corkery, Padraig. Bioethics and the Catholic Moral Tradition. Dublin: Veritas, 2011.
  • Sowle-Cahil, Lisa. Theological Bioethics. Washington: Georgetown, 2005
  • Meilaender, Gilbert. Bioethics: A Primer for Christians. Eerdmans; 2004.
  • O’Rourke, Kevin D and Phillip Boyle. Medical Ethics: Sources of Catholic Teachings. 4th edn. Washington D.C.: Georgetown University Press, 2011.
  • Shannon, Thomas A. An Introduction to Bioethics. 4th edn. Mahweh NJ: Paulist Press, 2009
  • Sutton, Agneta. Christian Bioethics: A Guide for the Perplexed. London: T&T Clark, 2008.
  • Walter, James J & Shannon, Thomas A. Contemporary Issues in Bioethics: A Catholic Perspective. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2005.