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Medical Ethics and the Holocaust

Dr David Brenner is Visiting Asst. Professor and Lecturer in Comparative Literature, Humanities, and Honors at University of Houston and University of Houston, Downtown. In this syllabus on Medical Ethics and the Holocaust, Dr. Brenner asks the question: how can we be sure that doctors and other health-science professionals are practicing medicine more ethically today with the historical context of Nazi doctors in mind. The objectives of the course include an examination of the Nazis’ approach to “applied biology,” discussion of other genocides and instances of mass violence from the standpoint of bioethics and human rights, and an exploration of the role of health professionals in recent controversies.


Objectives:


  1. Examine the Nazis’ approach to “applied biology” – i.e., the practice of eugenics, sterilization, euthanasia, and research experiments conducted on inmates in concentration camps during World War II.

  2. Discussion of other genocides and instances of mass violence from the standpoint of bioethics and human rights: the Milgram and Zimbardo/Stanford Prison obedience experiments, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment, and the conduct of research with human participants (from “informed consent” to the Belmont Report).

  3. Explore the role of health professionals in recent controversies surrounding discrimination in health care delivery, genetic testing, the interrogation of enemy combatants, etc.


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