07654 - Bioethics

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Good health and well-being Affordable and clean energy Climate Action

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

asic knowledges, specific methodologies and critical abilities with regard to the most relevant bioethical issues.

Course contents

The Nature of Responsibility, Responsibility for Nature

Science and technology became a question of renewed relevance for humanity in the twentieth century. The Promethean combination of scientific progress and power led mankind to a crucial point, an exchange station from which can be derived from divergent development paths.

In the first part, through a historical, theoretical and practical analysis, the Course focuses on the fundamental tension between science and power.

The starting point will be the moral debate on scientific research and its technological applications, which began after World War II, the understanding of the ambiguity of the idea of progress and the identity of the mankind at stake. The point of arrival of the first weeks of lessons will thus be a definition of bioethics, historically contextualized and founded on arguments.

In the Second Part, the Course will continue paying particular attention to environmental ethics, through the reading and commenting of the writings of some of the most significant authors in the environmental philosophical discussion. Environmental ethics (in its many expressions) was the first issue of "bioethics" in its late nineteenth century (when it still did not exist as a discipline); the most compelling in the mid-twentieth century, in connection with the revolution in atomic physics; among the most urgent today, in an era threatened by the destruction of the environment, by climatic upheavals, by the rampant suffering of human and non-human animals.

What is bioethics? When can scientific progress really be said to be real progress?

What are the effects of our innovations and experiments and how can we judge them? What is the planet still able to endure without destroying itself?

These are just some of the questions to which the Course will try to answer and against the background of which it will try to offer the general coordinates for a critical and plural dialogue.

Class Schedule

I Semester: Mo, Tu, We 5 - 7 p.m., class. IV (str. Zamboni 38) and on TEAMS.

Start date: 9.20.2021.


Günther Anders, Noi figli di Eichmann [1964], Giuntina, Florence, 1995. (or eng. edition)

Hans Jonas, Il principio responsabilità. Un'etica per la civiltà tecnologica [1979], Einaudi, Turin, 1993 (chap. I, II, IV, p. 3-63 and 101-135).

Marina Lalatta Costerbosa, Scienza. Ambivalenze, insidie, prospettive, in Dimensioni del diritto, ed. by Alberto Andronico,Tommaso Greco, Fabio Macioce, Giappichelli, Turin, 2019, p. 371-398 (available in pdf).

Serenella Iovino, Filosofie dell’ambiente. Natura, etica, società, Carocci, Milan, 2008.

Peter Singer, La vita come si dovrebbe [2000], il Saggiatore, Milan, 2001, chap. 1-9 (p. 19-123), chap. 11 (p. 139-145), chap. 12 (p. 146-165), chap. 25 (p. 319-329), chap. 27 (p. 346-356). (or eng. edition)

Arne Næss, Introduzione all’ecologia, Edizioni ETS, Pisa, 2015. (or eng. edition)

Peter Singer, Salvare una vita si può. Agire ora per cancellare la povertà, il Saggiatore, Milan, 2009. (or eng. edition)

OPTIONAL Readings:

Luigi Ferrajoli, Perché una Costituzione della terra?, Giappichelli, Torino 2021.

Serge Latouche, Giustizia senza limiti. La sfida dell’etica in una economia mondializzata, Bollati Boringhieri, Turin, 2003. 

Henry David Thoreau, Vita nel bosco [1854], Feltrinelli, Milan, 2014. 

Peter Singer, Liberazione animale [1975], il Saggiatore, Milan, 2015.

Legambiente, Ecomafia 2020. Le storie e i numeri della criminalità ambientale in Italia, Edizioni Ambiente, Milan, 2020.

The course will be accompanied by some seminars dedicated to themes or authors treated in class. Seminar appointments will be communicated at the beginning of the course; participation is optional.

The exam program is identical for attending and non-attending students.

Students of non-humanistic degree programs can, if they wish, agree on any changes to the program with the teacher.

The Syllabus is valid for both attending and non-attending students.

Teaching methods

Lectures, seminars and discussion on bioethical themes.

Interdisciplinary seminars will be hold by experts working in the field.

Assessment methods

Final oral examination. Room 5.01 (str. Zamboni 38) or TEAMS. On September there will be an examination schedule. 

Evaluating criteria:

1. Expertise; practical reasoning ability; critical competence.


18-21/30 basic level

22-25/30 moderate level

26-28/30 good level

29-30/30 excellent level.

Teaching tools

http://www.governo.it/bioetica/ Žhttp://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/bioethics/bioethics_ethics http://bioethics.georgetown.edu/pcbe/ [http://www.governo.it/bioetica/%20%C3%82%C2%8Ehttp://ec.europa.eu/research/biosociety/bioethics/bioethics_ethics%20http://bioethics.georgetown.edu/pcbe/]

Office hours

See the website of Marina Lalatta Costerbosa