PHLB09 2018: Biomedical Ethics


Welcome! Bienvenue! Boozhoo! This page is for students in C’s tutorials for Dr. Joshua Brandt’s PHLB09H1S (2018): Biomedical Ethics. On this site, I will post content and resources relevant to our tutorials, based on our collective recommendations and needs. You are in one of C’s tutorials if you are enrolled in one of the following through ROSI or Acorn:

  • Tutorial number 3014, Mondays 1-2pm in room AC334
  • Tutorial number 3015, Mondays 2-3pm in room AC334
  • Tutorial number 3016, Mondays 3-4pm in room AC334

Page contents:  (you should be able to click these list items to quickly scroll down)

  1. News and updates
  2. How to contact me
  3. Handouts and weekly materials
  4. Student submitted resources
  5. Other resources
  6. Acknowledgements and licensing

Note: Please refer to the course syllabus and blackboard for all official policies, deadlines, and documents. The content on this page will change as the course progresses and we learn from and about each other, but none of it will overrule any of the official course documents and policies.

1. News and updates:

    • April 7, 2018: Office hours (email instead): I won’t be able to make it to campus next week before the exam, though the professor has listed several (see blackboard). I will try to make myself more available to answer questions by email until end of Tuesday. Speed of replies will depend on the number of emails I receive and the length of your own question/request, but I’ll try to get back to people within 12-24 hours. I may be unable to send emails after Tuesday night.
    • April 1, 2018: Final Self-Reflection: Click here to access the fourth self-reflection until April 6th. As a reminder, you only need to do three self-reflections over the term, so if you’ve already submitted three, you do not need to do this one. If you do four, I will count only the highest three scores. Your final participation score will be the average of the three highest reflection scores, adjusted in cases where there has been evidence of your participation that has not been captured in the reflections (so if you missed one etc, you may be rounded up based on your attendance, in-tutorial writing, or evidence of collaborative groupwork over the term etc)
    • April 1, 2018: Final tutorial tomorrow. As a reminder, tomorrow is our final tutorial together. It’s been nice knowing and growing with you this term, and I hope to see you there.
    • March 21, 2018: No tutorials Monday, office hours instead: The instructor has cancelled all tutorials for the week of the 26th including ours. Instead, I will hold office hours at our regular tutorial times. See updated announcement below (highlighted in yellow from March 12).
    • March 21, 2018: Essay submission: We will submit our essays through Blackboard; the submission folder will be posted next week.
    • March 12, 2018: Office Hours: C will hold office hours at the following times/places to discuss midterms or term papers. If none of these times work for you, we may be able to arrange an alternative on a per-person basis.
      • Monday March 19: In portable 102, room 101, 11am-1pm. In person office hours will be first-come, first-served, with time limited per person.
      • Monday March 26: In portable 102, room 101, 11am-1pm. In person office hours will be first-come, first-served, with time limited per person.(rescheduled due to cancelled tutorials).
      • UPDATED: Monday March 26: In room AC334, 1-4pm. In person office hours will be first-come, first-served, with time limited per person.
      • Thursday March 29: Online by appointment 2-5pm. Online office hours will be by appointment through Skype or alternative, for up to 15 minutes each. A sign-up sheet will be posted on March 26th. Priority will be given to those who cannot make in-person office hours for reasons of (eg) disabilities, dependents, illness, or class conflict. Click here to sign up.
    • March 12, 2018: Click here to access the third self-reflection form until March 26. Note: Minor question change (described in the reflection) The scores for the second reflection will be posted by end of day March 12. The scores for the midterms will be posted by end of day March 15.
    • March 5, 2018: Philosophy Essay Clinic: As mentioned in tutorials, UTSC has a dedicated philosophy essay clinic, and it could be worth your time booking an appointment now, close to our deadline (even if we don’t have topics yet). You can click here to view the signup sheet, or contact the essay clinician Andriy Bilenkyy at
    • February 25, 2018: No Tutorials: As a reminder, the professor has cancelled tutorials for this upcoming week. Instead, I am holding office hours from 11.30am to 1.30pm. See below for details.
    • February 18, 2018: Office Hours. C will hold office hours from 11.30am to 1.30pm in room 101 of the Philosophy Portable, on Monday the 26th, as the instructor has cancelled tutorials before the Midterm. This represents the times that most people were free, based on the survey I ran a few weeks ago. If that time doesn’t work for you, send me an email and we’ll look into alternatives.
    • February 18, 2018: Reflections. Self-reflection scores have been posted to blackboard. Recall that the next two submission windows have been adjusted. You can access the second self-reflection form if you click here. I will post some collective feedback on the first reflection within 48hours to this website. You can access the collective feedback by clicking here. The original participation handout and participation questions and answers handout from tutorial one can still be accessed from this page below.
    • February 18, 2018: No strike. The union representing the TAs has voted in favour of a proposed contract, so there will be no strike. I will remove strike related information from these pages just as housekeeping, though I remain open to questions about strike things.
    • February 15, 2018: Offline. My computer is going in for repairs so updates will be slower this week.
    • February 11, 2018: I have adjusted the submission windows for the second and third reflections by one week. This is to reflect that C will be taking longer to review your first submissions, and it would be unfair to encourage you to submit your second reflections before I can suggest ways to improve our answers from the first.
    • February 8, 2018: Timeline things: For personal reasons I shared at the beginning of tutorials this week, I will be behind on my optimistic timeline of returning self-reflection scores within one week. They will definitely be returned within two weeks per the syllabus policy, and hopefully sooner. For the same reasons, I am a little slower than usually replying to emails, but still within my promised 24-48h window, and usually less than 24h. Thank you for your patience and compassion this week.
    • February 3, 2018: Self-reflections reminder: The first deadline window closes at the end of day tomorrow. Since I won’t be providing feedback on them, I will try to have them evaluated in about a week, as long as life doesn’t get in the way.
    • February 3, 2018: Office hours survey update: Judging from survey results, it seems like it would be useful to hold in-person office hours primarily around deadlines, rather than have them weekly. I will set those office hours dates/times once assignment details are released, and I will be sure to hold at least one set of office hours before the possible strike deadline. But: (1) you can still contact me to arrange to meet at other times. The fact that I won’t hold regular weekly office hours doesn’t mean we can’t meet! Just that I want to avoid holding hours that few or no people will attend. Send me an email and we’ll work it out. (2) There was more collective availability for online office hours Friday afternoons than in person on Mondays. I am currently looking into options for this: I could definitely arrange to hold more frequent office hours if I didn’t have to commute each time to hold them (for sake of time, money, and my chronically sore body). I’ll update us once I find a good candidate.
  • January 27, 2018: Undergraduate journal of possible interest: Those of you who have expressed an interest in disability and disability studies, should check out Knots, an undergraduate journal of disability studies that is organized by New College Disability Studies stream downtown. Their third issue is now available online, and they currently have calls open for submissions to Issue 4 (theme: “Refusal”. Papers due 16/02/18). Note: I am not affiliated with this program or journal, I just think it’s a neat opportunity.
  • January 27, 2018: Office Hours: If you are registered in C’s tutorials, you will have now received an email to a survey about office hours (I tried sending this earlier in the week, evidently without success). You can also access the survey if you click here. Because the survey wasn’t successfully sent until today, I will hold a single office hour this Monday, Jan 29th, from 12-1pm in the TA Office of the Philosophy Department (Portable 102 — there is a sign over the door). I will schedule future office hours based on survey results.
  • January 22, 2018: Recall that the first self-reflection is due any time between January 22 and February 4. You may submit online or during tutorials. Remember that information on self-reflections can be found under section three of this page: Handouts and weekly materials
  • January 17, 2018: If you need access to a textbook chapter: If you cannot access a chapter in the physical course textbook, due to accessibility issues (including financial access), please send me an email. More information on this will be discussed briefly in the next tutorial.
  • January 17, 2018: Getting to know you: Thanks to those of you comfortable filling out the “help me get to know you form” online or in tutorial. I have been reading through and learning from them, and will work to plan our next meeting around them. Several of you have asked questions about me in your answers, and I will plan to post my own answers to them sometime in the next two weeks when I have a free moment. Update (January 27, 2018): I’ve posted some of my answers, which you can read if you click here.
  • January 16, 2018: Website housekeeping: I do not have much control over the code for this website due to my hosting, and I am aware the low colour contrast of links to body text may be inaccessible. I have tried to underline links, but this is not always visible in the WordPress provided WYSIWYG editor, and I have missed some. I am looking to update links for visibility. If you encounter any other accessibility issues while using this page, please let me know.
  • January 14, 2018: Sample submission form. To view or complete a sample submission form for the participation self-reflections, you can click here. Note that this is a sample form to let you get familiar and test out submissions and confirmations, and will not count toward your participation grade. The submission link for the first self-reflection will be posted on January 22nd. If you have any questions or feedback about this form, let me know so I can update or tweak it before the first submission window : )
  • January 2, 2018: Welcome! I’m looking forward to our time together this term. This page (as you can probably tell) is still being prepared for the year. I will continue to update this site over the term, adding more content, making it more accessible, and building it up around our collective and individual needs.

[click here to return to top]

2. How to contact me:

Building a better learning environment together requires that we are able to communicate our questions, interests, worries, ideas, and needs to each other, and to have discussions as things change or arise. Not all of the things we will need to talk about will be comfortably shared in group settings, and there may be other reasons you want to contact me outside of our time in tutorials. Here are a few ways to contact me:

  1. Email: Please email me at, and include the course code or course title in your subject line. This will help me give the quicker responses, and allows me more control over my inbox. You can also email me at my address through blackboard, but those emails can sometimes get lost as I receive a large volume of emails to that address, so I cannot guarantee as quick of a response. In general, I try to respond to all emails within two business days after receiving them (I might reply on weekends, but reserve the right to take them off, as should you!). If you don’t hear back from me in a timely manner, feel free to email me again: I won’t consider it rude, it’s helpful!
  2. Anonymous email: I know that there can be many barriers to giving feedback, and people may feel uncomfortable raising important critical comments. But I still want to hear them! You can always send me emails anonymously through services like Please note that I cannot respond directly to anonymous emails, so make them as informative as possible!
  3. Before/after/during tutorials: Most of my time on the UTSC campus is around our tutorials, and it can be helpful sometimes to have conversations face-to-face. If you reach out, we can try to meet before or after tutorials, or to step into the hallway during tutorial time.
  4. Office hours: (Updated March 12, 2018) C will hold office hours at the following times/places to discuss midterms or term papers. If none of these times work for you, we may be able to arrange an alternative on a per-person basis.
    • Monday March 19: In portable 102, room 101, 11am-1pm. In person office hours will be first-come, first-served, with time limited per person.
    • Monday March 26: In portable 102, room 101, 11am-1pm. In person office hours will be first-come, first-served, with time limited per person.(rescheduled due to cancelled tutorials). Monday March 26: In room AC334, 1-4pm. In person office hours will be first-come, first-served, with time limited per person.
    • Thursday March 29: Online by appointment 2-5pm. Online office hours will be by appointment through Skype or alternative, for up to 15 minutes each. A sign-up sheet will be posted on March 26th. Priority will be given to those who cannot make in-person office hours for reasons of (eg) disabilities, dependents, illness, or class conflict.
  5. This website: You can also contact me by commenting on any of the blog posts or pages related to this course on this website.
  6. Other alternatives: If these options don’t work well for you, let me know and we will try to come up with ways of communicating that work well for both of us. In some cases, for example, I may be able to arrange to meet over Skype, Google, or telephone.

[click here to return to top]

3. Handouts and weekly materials

Here is where I’ll post online copies of all the handouts I bring to class, so you don’t have to worry about missing tutorials or losing your own copies. For longer documents, I will usually post them here rather than printing a lot of pages, and/or bring a shorter version to class. If you ever want a physical copy, let me know and I’ll be sure to bring some to class: I can print these for free and am committed to ensuring students do not have to pay additional money to access tutorial materials.

  • Handouts (you can click the titles to access the handouts online)
    • Tutorials. A quick introduction to tutorials, what they are, and some thoughts on how we will navigate them together and build toward a more inclusive course community. The short version of this handout will be distributed in our first tutorial; a longer version may be updated later.
    • Participation“. A short handout describing how “participation” will be evaluated in our time together. This handout will be given out in our first tutorial. I will update the handout as the course goes on and we navigate what we want and need out of participation.
    • Participation questions and answers“. A longer handout that tries to answer any questions that might come up about how we’re treating participation. This handout will only be available online as it is quite long and might be regularly updated, but I can print copies on request: send me an email or ask in person.
    • The ‘Help me get to know you!’ form (external link). This handout is for helping me get to know you as we head into the term, asking questions about how you like to be referred to, what your interests, needs, experiences, and questions are, without putting anyone in the position of having to reach out to me on your own or be singled out. Click the bold text to access the digital submission. If you already filled in this form in tutorial, you don’t need to do it again.
      • Note: Even if you did not attend the first tutorial, or do not plan on attending any tutorials, please try to submit this form to me, answering as many questions as you feel comfortable. This will help me make sure that I am respecting your identity, needs, etc. when I’m talking with the instructor, or when we’re communicating by email and office hours.
      • Click here to read some of C’s answers for those who asked.
  • Weekly Materials

Be sure also to check out the resources further down this page for other sources of support!

[click here to return to top]

4. Student submitted resources

Here is where I will share all the resources and materials that you share or create, such as links to shared notes, blog posts, news articles, videos, or anything else you’d like to share with our peers. To add something to this list, please email me or let me know in person. Also let me know if you’d like me to list your name (or names for collaborative resources and finds), otherwise I will list them anonymously. I will not share your name on this website ever without your explicit permission or request, as this is a publicly searchable website.

[click here to return to top]

5. Other Resources

Here is where I will post links to various resources over the term on things like health and wellbeing support, writing centres, guides on how to read and write in philosophy and bioethics, etc. This list will be updated all term long, with specific links added based on our expressed needs and interests.

If you’re looking for a particular resource and having a difficult time navigating this messy list, you can usually press Control+F or Command+F on your keyboard to open a search box and search this page for specific terms.

  • Local and campus resources. Note: I am not super familiar with Scarborough and UTSC services, though I am learning more about them as fast as I can. If any of these resources are problematic, inaccessible, or if you have other resources to suggest, please reach out and let me know! In particular, I am currently looking to add Scarborough-based services that provide dedicated support for various identity groups (trans, two-spirit, IBPOC, etc); local and accessible food banks and meal services; and places that provide alternatives for services usually provided by 911 for those who want to avoid (eg) police involvement and escalation.

    • UTSC Escort (walk safe program) can be reached 24/7 at 416-287-7022. Note: it is organized by campus police and patrols, and they may require your name and other information. You can find out more online at
      • After tutorials, if I do not have any appointments scheduled, I will usually be directly taking transit back downtown. If I am able, I will be happy to walk to a campus stop (or parking lot), or ride with students who do not feel safe either walking around campus or riding transit alone, or to call the campus escort services on a student’s behalf.
    • The UTSC Health and Wellness Centre can be reached at 416-287-7065 or in room SL270 of the Student Centre, and has health care providers who provide medical, nursing, counselling, health promotion and education services to University of Toronto Scarborough students. Any student with a current student card and a valid health card can use their services. Unfortunately all bookings must be made over phone or in person, but you can ask questions online by emailing Check them out online at 
    • The UTSC AccessAbility Services provides “services and academic accommodations to students who have a documented learning, physical, sensory, mental health disability or medical condition”. They are located in room S302 of the Science Building, online at, by phone at 416-287-7560, and by email at
      • Recall: while AccessAbility services provides many sources of services and support that you can and should access if you want or need, I will generally not require students give me official documentation or disclose registration with AccessAbility for extensions or other accommodations where possible, though you are definitely welcome to disclose your letter of accommodations if you choose.
    • The Scarborough Centre for Healthy Communities provides a number of services, including (but not only) a clothing bank, a food bank, a sexual assault and domestic violence care centre. Find out more about services or contact information through
    • Bursary and Emergency Financial Aid: See the following link from the Office of the Registrar for information about emergency financial aid: UTSC also has bursaries available, with a deadline of February 19 to register. See the following link for more information
    • The Toronto Distress Centre can be reached at 416-408-4357 and provides emotional support services for chronic mental health problems, support, and crisis intervention services for those experiencing situational distress or crisis, suicide prevention services, and emergency intervention, response, and referrals. They can provide services in 175 languages and use Bell Relay services for those who are deaf or hard of hearing.
    • The “What’s Up Walk-In” Free Walk-In provides free mental health counselling: no fee, no appointment, no health card needed. The closest one to campus is at 1200 Markham Road near Ellesmere, in suite 200, and can be reached at 416-438-3697. Check them out online at and
    • The UTSC International Student Centre provides support for international students and can help direct questions about insurance and other issues. They can be found in Instructional Centre room IC350, by phone at 416-287-7518, by email at, and online at
    • For shelter and emergency housing support, you can call 311 in case of emergency, or central intake at 416-338-4766, 1-877-338-3398. You can view a list of shelters by area here online at You can learn more about the Scarborough Women’s Centre specifically online here
    • For access to clothing, you can find a map of some clothing banks at
    • For access to food, UTSC’s student union has a food centre that is run out of SL 210A, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 4-7pm. You can contact them at, on Facebook by searching “SCSU Food Centre”. You can register on site and access free food then and there.
  • Resources on reading and writing in philosophy. I will be updating this list as the term goes on, and try to provide resources that are more relevant to our specific assignments and topics.
    • Reading philosophy: There are many different reading strategies, and different people with different learning styles may benefit from one approach rather than another. Most of these guides have similar thoughts on how to read philosophy, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the one right or best way for you. If you are having difficulties with texts, though, I do suggest you try these strategies, and reach out to our instructor or me if you have other questions.
      • One thing that came up in tutorials, was that it can be hard to get through the readings or know what to focus on, and sometimes the information is overwhelming. If you find yourself in this position, I suggest you take the follow route: (1) Skim the readings before lecture, focusing on italic and bold text, the main points from sections, but just a quick idea; (2) attend lectures, take notes, and refer to slides; (3) use the lectures, slides, and personal notes to guide a closer reading of the text, now that you know what to focus on. Just be careful: we can be inclined to skim when we feel more familiar with a text because of the lecture, so try giving yourself some time after the lecture before launching right in.
      • Some friends of mine have thoughts and resources if you click here
      • Jeff McLaughlin has some thoughts if you click here
      • Jim Pryor has more than a few thoughts available if you click here
      • And David Concepcion has a published paper about the importance of learning how to read philosophy (with a guide and tips on how to actually do that) available if you click here
    • Some helpful online encyclopedias and dictionaries: Most of these give a really good introduction & survey of the literature on topics, and are usually commissioned pieces. This tends to mean the entries are more authoritative than (eg) Wikipedia, but may also mean that some authors’ biases can creep in. These are in general good resources for overviews on topics, though, and have good bibliographies for further reading.
  • Philosophy Essay Clinic: UTSC has a dedicated philosophy essay clinic, and it could be worth your time booking an appointment now, close to our deadline (even if we don’t have topics yet). You can click here to view the signup sheet, or contact the essay clinician Andriy Bilenkyy at

[click here to return to top]

6. Acknowledgements and licensing

All our activities in this course take place on Indigenous land. The land on which the University of Toronto sits is the traditional territory of the Mississauga of the New Credit First Nation, the Neutral, the Anishnawbe, the Haudenosaunee, the Wendat, and the Huron Indigenous peoples, and the territory is the subject of the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Convenant, an agreement between the Haudenosaunee Confederacy and the Confederacy of the Anishnaabek and Allied Nations to peaceably care for and share the resources around the Great Lakes.

We should further acknowledge that the study of bioethics does not exist in a vacuum. Throughout this course, we should reflect on the impact of studying bioethics in a Canadian context. As we study human research we should reflect on the manufactured food crisis in Northern Canada and the nutrition/starvation experiments conducted in Residential Schools less than a hundred years ago. As we reflect on euthanasia and medical assistance in dying and its recent decriminalization in Canada, we should reflect on the Indigenous suicide crisis, including that affecting the Attawapiskat First Nations, and the history of colonial medical ethics that produced these crises. As we discuss procreation and reproduction, we should reflect critically on Canada’s cultural genocide of Indigenous peoples, on the Sixties Scoop and Residential Schools, on environmental racism such as Chemical Valley and its impact on the Aamjiwnaang, and on disproportionate and unjust lack of access to health and health resources. Throughout our discussions of bioethics we should be grateful to have the opportunity to work in this community and on this territory, and must be mindful of our personal, community, and disciplinary colonial histories, the broken covenants, our present day actions, and whom our conversations include, privilege, silence, and exclude.

Drafts of these handouts and teaching strategies were helped through conversation with innumerable friends, teachers, students, and colleagues over years of work. They have learned as well from the words of writers and teachers who have come before me, from the Twitter followers and mutuals who have engaged in many online conversations, and the communities that I belong to or have been welcomed into. Particular thanks to Lauren Munro, who has shared in many a teaching conversation this past year, and whose remixing of my participation handouts in her own teaching has helped shape more recent drafts of the originals. I won’t name other people here without permission, as this page is publicly indexed and searchable, but you know who you are: I am honoured to know and grow with you all.

Any of the original material on this page is shared under a a Creative Commons Attribution Share-Alike 2.5 Canadian (CC BY-SA 2.5 CA) license. This means you’re totally welcome to take or use and remix the words or materials I produce as you like, as long as you acknowledge their source, and as long as you let other people do the same with what you make of them. You may cite them per typical online resource/ephemera conventions. (Click here to learn more about the CC BY-SA 2.5 CA license).

I believe that (i) pedagogical work should be collaborative and shared, that (ii) pedagogical work is scholarly work that is discredited and undervalued by current conceptualizations of what counts as “scholarly”, that (iii) pedagogical work is disproportionately produced by people who are in precarious academic positions and/or are members of marginalized and oppressed identity groups, and that (iv) we should be working to build a culture of citation, sharing, and support around pedagogical work. I believe this Creative Commons license helps work toward some of those goals, and that is why I license my pedagogical materials under it. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

[click here to return to top]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s