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This course is designed to give students an introduction to critical thinking and philosophy by exploring contemporary issues in the philosophy of medicine.

Philosophy of Health and Medicine

We will explore problems emerging from the clinic that will help students appreciate the multidisciplinary complexity of medical practice, the interplay between matters of science and matters of culture, and how these concerns have consequences for the good of society and for one’s own self-understanding.

We will consider questions such as: How do you define health and illness? Is medicine objective like physics or does its human element make it something else? What is the placebo effect? Given what we know about that phenomenon, what does it mean to be a patient? How should ethical questions in the clinic be decided? Is healthcare a right? What role do our attitudes towards life and death play in answering any of these questions? 

To approach these questions, students will learn to consider traditional philosophical topics such as the relation between the mind and body, the history and philosophy of science, and ethics. 

About the lectures

De voertaal van dit programma is Engels.

The credit value of active participation in the PRE-programme is 25 studielasturen.

On Tuesdays, from January 12th to March 16th.

  1. January 12: What is medicine?
  2. January 19: What is health? What is illness?
  3. January 26: Problems of minds and bodies—the placebo effect 
  4. February 2: Problems of societies and bodies—race, class, and public health 
  5. February 9: Emerging technologies, emerging philosophical issues 
  6. March 2: Bioethics—medical devices, organ donation, euthanasia 
  7. March 9: Life and death in the clinic—principles and narrative ethics 
  8. March 16: ‘I made my philosophy out of my will to health!’—famous philosophers on health 

Registration and admission

Who can apply?
This course is designed for curious and motivated students of 5 and 6 vwo.

Write a letter of intent to tell us about yourself and, in particular, why you would like to take part in this programme. Please restrict your letter, in English, to about 300 words or one page of A4. The deadline for signing up is 4 november, before 09:00 AM. Check out Aanmelding & selectie for more information.

The maximum number of students selected for the programme will be 25. 


For any questions regarding this class, you can contact Klawa Koppenol, coordinator of the Pre-University Classes.

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