The objectives of this course are to introduce students to main concepts and theories in philosophy of aging and to give students experience in making and justifying positions on topics concerning aging, death, and dying. The class considers some of the basic questions of philosophy of aging: What constitutes aging? What is our moral obligation to the aging? What is death? How does one normatively judge cases of death and dying? Are there unifying themes in philosophy of aging, death, and dying? The class looks at how philosophers have answered these questions and how their answers might be relevant to contemporary dilemmas in philosophy of aging, death, and dying. Readings include both classical and contemporary texts taken from western, African, and Asian traditions on topics concerning aging, death, and dying. In the course, students have a chance to consider basic questions of right and wrong in medicine in a global comparative context, and, in doing so, gain experience in thinking critically, reasoning carefully, and writing articulately.
Field WorkCountry: Ghana
Date: April 1, 2017
In this field class, we visit with a professor in Accra to discuss Ghanaian views of aging, death, and dying. We learn about why funeral services are important in Ghana. As a chance to mourn as well as to celebrate the life of a dearly departed, funeral services bring family and friends together in sometimes elaborate and expensive services. We also learn about the respected art of coffin making in Accra as well as, should the opportunity arise, view a portion of a funeral service in Ghana. If there is time, we visit a nursing home in Accra to discuss how Ghana is addressing the need for elder care. In keeping with the themes of the class, we discuss how aging, death, and dying are understood in Ghana and some of the ethical issues Ghana faces in caring for an aging population.
1. Deepen our understanding of Ghanaian views of aging, death, and dying
2. Deepen our understanding of Ghanaian funeral and burial practices in Ghana
3. Deepen our understanding of how Ghana is addressing the need for elder care