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Teaching Ethics

Volume 19, Issue 2, Fall 2019

Silvia Panizza
Pages 233-244

Exploring Ethical Assumptions and Bias in Medical Ethics Teaching

This paper is a reflection on an experiment undertaken during a Medical Ethics lecture delivered to a group of medical students in the UK as part of a project for a programme in Higher Education Practice. The aim of the project, following Paulo Freire’s idea of ‘liberating education,’ was to identify students’ ethical assumptions and biases in relation to a problem of resource allocation in healthcare, and their role in decision-making. The experiment showed the importance placed by medical students on disputed values such as free will, desert, social worth and body image, and highlighted the difficulty and importance of bringing students’ process of moral decision-making to awareness in ethics teaching, in order to a) decrease the role of implicit bias in students’ decision making and b) allow students to decide whether they in fact agree with assumed values and ethical frameworks that influence their thinking.

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