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Philosophy of Science, Health Care Ethics and Human Rights

This is the study programme for 2019/2020. It is subject to change.

The course explores themes and issues in general philosophy of science and in the specific philosophy of science within the health care profession.
Additionally this course aims to develop the students conceptual understanding of clinical ethics and skills in applying this understanding to ethical dilemmas encountered in their professional practice.
International human rights with relevance to the students' everyday professional life will be explored.

Learning outcome

A candidate who has completed this course should have the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills and general competence:
The candidate should have knowledge about:
  • Meta-scientific theory, rationalism, empiricism/positivism, phenomenology, hermeneutics and critical theory
  • Basic ethical theories and concepts, the four medical ethical principles, the relation between jurisdiction and ethics as relates to key issues in pre-hospital care
  • Moral stress, and how clinical ethical reflection may both reduce moral stress of pre-hospital care workers and enhance the quality of pre-hospital patient care
  • The six-step clinical ethical reflection model
  • International human rights as a concept and system
  • Specific human rights relevant to pre-hospital critical care

The candidate should be able to:
  • Describe and evaluate different views on science and meta-science
  • Describe and evaluate different world views
  • Identify ethical dilemmas in pre-hospital care
  • Distinguish between ethical dilemmas and other professional issues
  • Reflect systematically about a clinical ethical dilemma from their own professional experience by applying communication skills, theoretical knowledge and contextual understanding
  • Identify human rights issues in their practice
  • Apply their knowledge of human rights to reflect upon and discuss these issues

General competence
The candidate should:
  • Be able to analyze and critically evaluate different epistemological issues, and distinguish between different scientific traditions
  • Be able to articulate an understanding of the importance and character of clinical ethics and have the ability to process in a systematic manner, clinical ethical dilemmas encountered in pre-hospital care through applying a six-step reflection model, communication skills, contextual sensitivity and theoretical knowledge.
  • Have insights into what international human rights are and how these rights affect their profession
  • Be able to use their knowledge to participate in making sure human rights are respected in their profession
  • Be able to communicate human rights issues relevant to pre-hospital critical care inside and out of a professional setting


The course explores themes and issues in philosophy of science, ethical theory and human rights in general, and their applicability to prehospital critical care.
The main objectives are that students develop a critical understanding of the epistemological and ethical assumptions and implications in the health care profession, and that they develop an understanding of what international human rights are, mainly from a legal standpoint, and how these rights are relevant to their everyday professional life. The latter is done by both looking at human rights as a concept, and also examining specific human rights relevant to prehospital critical care.
Students are expected to demonstrate and exercise independent judgment and competence in writing.

Required prerequisite knowledge


Recommended previous knowledge

Examen Philosophicum or equivalent


Weight Duration Marks Aid
Home exam1/114 daysA - FAll.1)
1) All aids allowed

Coursework requirements

Participation in presentation, 80% attendance
80% class attendance. If more than 50% attendance is achieved the student may apply for individual evaluation. The student may, if the faculty finds the basis sufficient, be given an extended written assignment.

Course teacher(s)

Course teacher
Kjetil Moen , Morten Tønnessen , Torgeir Martin Hillestad
Course coordinator
Ane Kristine Bendixen , Morten Tønnessen
Study Program Director
Per Kristian Hyldmo

Method of work

The course is organized in on-campus modules, and the course work will consist of lectures, seminars, group work and individual work.
Self-­study will be emphasized. Active methodology and close dialogue between student and teacher are central elements in the teaching and learning process.

Overlapping courses

Course Reduction (SP)
Philosophy of Science and Health Care Ethics (FXPSH100_1) 10

Open to

Prehospital Critical Care (PHCC) Emergency Medical Care - Master Degree Program

Course assessment

Student evaluation of this course will be conducted in accordance with faculty requirements.


Certain adjustments in literature might be made. Any adjustments will be published on Canvas at the start of the semester. Parts of the literature might be made available online.
  • Agledahl, KM; Gulbrandsen, P; Førde, R; and Wifstad Å. (2011). Courteous but not curious: how doctors' politeness masks their existential neglect
  • Beauchamp, Tom L. and Childress, James F. (2012): Principles of Biomedical Ethics (Seventh Edition), p. Oxford University Press. New York. ISBN: 9780199924585 (kapitel 4-6, 190 pp.)
  • Bortolotti, Lisa. An Introduction to the Philosophy of Science. Polity, 2008.
  • Løgstrup, K. E. (1997). The ethical demand. Notre Dame, Ill: University of Notre Dame Press. (Chapter 1)
  • Polifroni, E. Carol, and Mary Louise Welch (ed.): Perspectives on Philosophy of Science in Nursing: An Historical and Contemporary Anthology, selected chapters (selection is announced 4 weeks before teaching starts). Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1998. (about 170 pp)
  • Rachels, James og Stuart Rachels. The Elements of Moral Philosophy. 7. edition. McGraw-Hill Education, 2011.
  • Shafer-Landau, Russ (ed.). Ethical Theory: An Anthology, selected chapters (selection is announced 4 weeks before teaching starts). Oxford: Blackwell, 2007. (about 170 pp)
  • Warburton, Nigel. Philosophy: The Essential Study Guide. London: Routledge, 2004. (100 pp)

Human rights:
  • Aasen, Holversen and Barbosa da Silva (eds) Human rights, Dignity and Autonomy in Health Care and Social Services: Nordic Perspectives (Intersentia 2009). Chapter 2, pp 53-68 (15 pp)
  • Donnelly. J, Universal Human Rights in Theory and Practice, Cornell University Press 2013. Chapters 2 and 6, pp 24-40 and 93-103 (25 pp)
  • Moeckli, Shah and Sivakumeran (eds), International Human Rights Law, (2nd edition), Oxford: OUP, 2014 (Selected chapters. Selection is announced at the start of the semester About 50 pp total)
  • Toebes, Birgit, Mette Hartlev, Aart Hendriks and Janne Rothmar Herrmann (eds), Health and Human Rights in Europe, Intersentia, 2012. Chapters 1 and 3, pp 23-50 and 83-11, (54 pp)

Suggested reading:
  • Barbosa da Silva, António (ed.): Etikk og menneskesyn i helsetjeneste og sosialt arbeid, chapters 1-6. Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk, 2010. (180 pages) [Can be replaced by Rachels and Rachels 2011]
  • Brinchmann, Berit Støre (ed.). Etikk i sykepleien. Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk, 2010.
  • Johansen, Kjell Eyvind and Arne Johan Vetlesen. Innføring i etikk. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 2009.
  • Thornquist, Eline. Vitenskapsfilosofi og vitenskapsteori for helsefag. Bergen: Fagbokforlaget, 2008.
  • Skovholt, T. M., & Trotter-Mathison, M. J. (2011). The resilient practitioner: burnout prevention and self-care strategies for counselors, therapists, teachers, and health professionals. New York: Routledge. (kapitel 1)
  • Svenaeus, F. (2018). Phenomenological Bioethics : Medical technologies, human suffering, and the meaning of being alive. London: Routledge.
  • Thomassen, Magdalene: Vitenskap, kunnskap og praksis -­ innføring i vitenskapsfilosofi for helse-­ og sosialfag. Oslo: Gyldendal Akademisk, 2006 (1. utgave). (180 pages). [Can be replaced by Bortolotti 2008]
  • Zaner, R. M. (1988). Ethics and the Clinical Encounter: Prentice Hall.

Compulsory readings amounts to ca. 800 pages.

This is the study programme for 2019/2020. It is subject to change.

Sist oppdatert: 28.05.2020