ALS 341

Bioindustry Ethics & Society

Spring 2010 - Time: Th: 5:00-7:20 - Location: Lecture Hall, Bldg #517, KGI


 Brian Keeley, Pitzer


Broad Hall 107

Office Hours:

Wednesdays 1:00-3:00pm, and by appt.

Yahoo Messenger





74235 (email is better!)

Sakai site:

Course Website:




In this 8-week course, we will cover a number of ethical and broader social issues related to bioindustry, with the goal of familiarizing the student with up-to-date thinking on these issues. One core theme throughout the course will be the ethical and social challenges raised by the burgeoning science of genetics—treatments for genetic diseases, genetic testing, eugenics and whether and to what extent genes should be considered causes of important human traits, but we will also pursue tangents related to other biomedical developments and for preparing students to be socially and ethically cognizant practitioners of bioscience.


Class will meet weekly in the evening. You will be expected to do any assigned readings prior to that nightÕs presentation. While a number of the presentations will be made by Prof. Keeley, several will be given by regional experts in the field. We hope to provide you with exposure to a number of different points of view on these issues.


Week 4 of the course (see syllabus) will be a ŌStudent ChoiceĶ topic, in which the class will be asked to vote on a list of potential topics presented by Prof. Keeley (weÕll discuss this in class).


Required Texts:

-  No specific text is required. Most weeks, there will be a collection of papers or chapters to be made available to you on Sakai.



-  Your grade in this course will be based on three things: 1) Two, 2-3-page response papers to 2 different weeksÕ readings and presentation (20% each), 2) a 5-6 page, take home final exam (60%).

-  Response papers: After each weekÕs presentation (except for the final week), a short prompt will be uploaded to Sakai to help you structure your response. Responses will be due no later than midnight on the Tues following the presentation. (You should upload it to Sakai in Word, Pages or PDF format.) You have a choice as to which weeks to do. HOWEVER, you MUST write at least one response in the first THREE weeks of class. You must also wait at least one week after submitting a response before doing the next one. (This allows me time to give you feedback on the first before you do your second one.)

-  The final, take-home exam will likely combine some short answer questions together with an essay.








Week °



01/21 Th:


No Class


Week 1

Introduction and Ethical Toolkit


01/28 Th:


Chapter 1 “Ethical theory and bioethics” of Beauchamp, T.L. & Walters, L, Contemporary Issues in Bioethics, 6th ed., Wadsworth Pub. Co., 2003.


Week 2

Human Research


02/04 Th:


  • NBAC, "Protecting Research Participants—A Time for Change"

  • Emanuel & Miller, "The Ethics of Placebo-Controlled Trials—A Middle Ground"
  • Shapiro & Meslin, "Ethical Issues in the Design and Conduct of Clinical Trials in Developing Countries"
  • Benatar, "Justice & Medical Research: A Global Perspective"
  • Pence, "The Tuskegee Study"
  • Clinton, "In Apology for the Study Done in Tuskegee"


Week 3

The Fallacy of Genetic Determinism & Epigenetics: Implementing a Developmental Point of View


02/11 Th:

David Moore, Psychology, Pitzer

  • Masterpasqua, "Psychology and Epigenetics"

  • Johnston & Edwards, "Genes, Interactions, and the Development of Behavior"

  • Gilbert, "Mechanisms for the environmental regulation of gene expression: Ecological aspects of animal development"

  • RECOMMENDED: Gottlieb, "Probabilistic epigenesis"


Week 4

Student Choice Topic : Human Cloning


02/18 Th:


  • Leon Kass, "The Wisdom of Repugnance"
  • NBAC, "Cloning Human Beings"
  • Ranaan Gillon, "Human Reproductive Cloning: Alook at the args against it and a rejection of most of them"
  • NRC, "Scientific and Medical Aspect of Human Reproductive Cloning"


Week °



02/25 Th:

No Class

Class Cancelled


Week 5

The Ethics of Genetic Testing


03/04 Th:

Rivka Weinberg, Philosophy, Scripps College

  • Erik Parens and Adrienne Asch, "The Disabilities Rights Critique of Prenatal Genetic Testing: Reflections and Recommendations," Hastings Center Report 29(5): S1-S22; 1999.
  • Buchanan, Brock and Daniels, From Chance to Choice: Genetics and Justice: Chapter 5: "Why Not the Best?"


Week 6

How to talk to a science journalist


03/11 Th:

Shari Roan, Science writer, Los Angeles Times


Week °



03/18 Th:


Spring Break


Week 7

Eugenics and Disability Issues

03/25 Th:

N. Ann Davis, Philosophy, Pomona College

  • Diane Paul, "Eugenic anxieties, social realities and political choices" & "Eugenic origins of medical genetics" from The Politics of Heredity: Essays on Eugenics, Biomedicine and the Nature-Nurture Debate

  • Dorothy Nelkin, "The social power of genetic information", from The Code of Codes: Scientific & Social Issues in the Human Genome Project, Kelves & Hood, eds.

  • Harlan Hahn, "Advertising the acceptably employable image: Disability & capitalism", from The Disability Studies Reader, Davis, ed.

  • Ruth Hubbard, "Abortion & Disability: Who should and who should not inhabit the world?", from The Disability Studies Reader, Davis, ed.


  • Daniel Kelves, "Varieties of presumptuousness" & "The songs of Deicide", from In the Name of Eugenics

  • Peter Conrad, "Genetics & behavior in the news: Dilemmas of a rising paradigm", from The Double-edged Helix: Social implications ofgenetics in a diverse society, Alper, et al (eds.)

  • Troy Duster, "Buried alive: The concept of race in science", from Genetic Nature / Culture: Anthropology and Science beyond Two-culture Divide, Goodman et al (eds.)

Several other further readings/resources available on Sakai for the curious.

Week '


04/01 Th:

No Class

Class Cancelled

Week 8

  Final Discussion

04/8 Th:



  Take-home Final Exam will be due on Thursday 15 April