Teaching Medical Ethics and Critical Thinking
There may be three different educational purposes in teaching a course of medical ethics. One is to teach knowledge or information such as regulation relevant to medical ethics, ethical principles, or arguments in ethical issues. Another is to internalize some values or morality. The other is to improve a student's abilities of thinking and communication. I argue for the last purpose because it is effective in cultivating a student's disposition to make his/her moral judgment for him/herself with the acquisition of relevant knowledge or information. This cultivation will serve the other purposes in the long run.
As a method to improve abilities of thinking and communication, I emphasize critical thinking. Critical thinking is a mode of thinking in which one improves his/her thinking considering its elements and assessing them by standards. The elements of thinking are problem, conclusion, concepts, information, assumption, perspectives, implication, context, and purpose. The standards are clarity, precision, accuracy, importance, relevance, logicalness, sufficiency, depth, breadth, and fairness. I explain these elements and standards applying them to the issue of euthanasia.
In addition, I emphasize a teaching method based on conversation between a teacher and students. I also suggest some requirements that students must satisfy in their papers. A student has to explain the importance of an issue he/she considers, express his/her conclusion, provide reasons explaining some concepts and using relevant information such as data, cases, or experience, and respond to the strongest objections to his/her claim.