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April 21, 2004


    OSWEGO -- Dr. Robert Card brought two projects to fruition at SUNY Oswego this semester. His first book, "Critically Thinking About Medical Ethics" rolled off the presses less than a month before he began teaching "Medical Ethics," a new course he developed at Oswego. The book is the text for the course.

    The assistant professor of philosophy first developed and taught a course in medical ethics at McGill University. Later he taught the subject at the University of Vermont.

    "I was unsatisfied with the texts that were available," he said, and so about two years ago, he set about creating his own.

    More than just a collection of readings, Card's book first introduces critical thinking tools and then applies them to the specific issues and cases presented by other authors. "It's really a hybrid," Card said, "a mixture of an edited text of readings and a single-author text that lays a foundation for being able to think about the issues."

    The more than 80 readings range from the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision to an essay by Amitai Etzioni. They are organized in sections covering reproductive issues; life, death and medical technology; HIV/AIDS and the relationship between patient and health care provider; and medical research and allocation of medical resources. The authors are mostly philosophers, physicians, lawyers, judges, public health professionals and journalists.

    Card wrote introductions to each chapter that treat the readings as a coherent dialogue and provide students with broad connections between them.

    When he was finishing the text, he was selected to participate in a faculty institute last summer at Dartmouth College on "Teaching the Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications of the Human Genome Project." "If there's any area that's difficult to keep up with here, it's probably genetics," Card said. The institute "really helped me to keep current," he said.

    Published in paperback by Prentice Hall, "Critically Thinking About Medical Ethics" retails for $66.67, or $60 on the publisher's Web site.

    The current "Medical Ethics" class at Oswego is the first to use the book. Professors elsewhere will likely begin picking it up next year, Card said. "My editor has told me there have been numerous people who have requested copies," he said.

    In its debut at Oswego, Card's class filled to 26 students, including philosophy majors, students interested in entering health professions and business majors. "This is really a professional ethics course, where the profession is medicine," the professor explained.

     As an "intellectual issues" course, it can fill one of Oswego's core general education requirements for students in any major.

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Robert Card and his book

THINKING CRITICALLY -- Dr. Robert Card of SUNY Oswego's philosophy department is the author of the new text "Critically Thinking About Medical Ethics," published by Prentice Hall. He is using it in a new course he developed at Oswego.

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