Ethics in Life Sciences and Healthcare: Exploring Bioethics through Manga

Week0 Welcome Satoshi Kodama


Graduate School
Graduate School of Letters


Instructor name
Satoshi Kodama
Professor of Ethics at Graduate School of Letters, Kyoto University. His research interests include utilitarianism and bioethics.
Outline and Purpose of the Course
Is it okay to take pills to help you ace exams? Should you be able to choose the sex of your child? Is abortion murder? These controversial questions will be explored through Manga in this bioethics course. Bioethics is an interdisciplinary field of study that looks into ethical, legal, and social implications of life sciences and health care.

This course will help you understand key ethical issues surrounding crucial problems that profoundly impact your life from birth to death.

Topics include:

  • Reproductive technology such as surrogacy and sex-selection of the baby

  • Informed consent

  • Abortion

  • The use of medical technology for the purpose of enhancement

  • Euthanasia

  • Living donor organ transplantation

  • Cloning technology

  • ES cells and iPS cells

  • Lifespan and eternal life

  • Brain death and organ transplants

You will also learn about ethical arguments and regulations in Japan and other countries concerning life sciences and healthcare. Our hope is, through this course, you will better understand and formulate your own opinions on these important issues.

DISCLAIMER: The intention of this course is to present different arguments and perspectives on a number of different topics in bioethics. In other words, this course DOES NOT aim to instill in its audience any particular perspective, religious or otherwise, on each topic.
Course Goals

  • Basic terms for bioethics

  • Basics of ethical arguments

  • How decisions are made on critical bioethics issues

  • Regulations and public policies related to bioethical issues in Japan and other countries

Schedule and Contents
Week 1

The Ethics of Assisted Reproductive Technology

  • What is Assisted Reproductive Technology?

  • Sex Selection

  • Pros & Cons of Sex Selection

  • Ethical Issues Associated with Assisted Reproductive Technology

Week 2

The Ethics of Truth-Telling

  • Cancer and Its Disclosure in Japan

  • Pros & Cons of Cancer Disclosure

  • Paternalism & Self-Determination

  • Informed Consent & Patient-Centered Medicine

Week 3

Is Abortion Murder?

  • Current Situation of Abortion in Japan

  • Ethical Discussions in Japan

  • Ethical Discussions in Europe & America

  • Social Problems Related to Abortion

Week 4

What’s wrong with Enhancement?

  • Use of Medical Technologies for Enhancement

  • The Ethical Pros and Cons of Enhancement – The Anti-Use Position

  • The Ethical Pros and Cons of Enhancement – Where Are Enhancement Technologies Heading?

Week 5

Is Euthanasia Wrong?

  • Euthanasia and Death with Dignity

  • Japanese Cases of Euthanasia

  • For and Against Euthanasia

  • Palliative Medicine

  • Living Wills

Week 6

Living-Donor Organ Transplantation

  • Organ Transplantation

  • The History of Organ Transplantation

  • Living-Donor Organ Transplantation and Ethical Problems

  • Organ Trafficking

  • Living-Donor Organ Transplants: Exception or the Rule?

Week 7

Cloning Technology

  • Media Reports on the Birth of Dolly the Cloned Sheep and “the Birth of a Human Clone”

  • Two Purposes of Cloning and Ethical Controversy

  • Regulation of Human Cloning

  • Discussion with the Instructor – Part 1

Week 8

ES Cells and iPS Cells

  • Production of ES Cells and Regenerative Medicine

  • Barriers to ES Cell Production

  • The Production of iPS Cells

  • Problems of iPS Cells

Week 9

Lifespan and Eternal Life

  • Human Lifespan in the Past, Present, and Future

  • Effects of Life-Extension Technologies on the Individual

  • Effects of Life-Extension Technologies on Society

  • Discussion with the Instructor – Part 2

Week 10

Brain Death and Organ Transplants

  • The Organ Transplant Law and its Revision in Japan

  • The Process of Organ Donation

  • Ethical Controversy over Brain Death 1

  • Ethical Controversy over Brain Death 2

Course Requirements
No previous knowledge of bioethics is needed.
Textbooks/References, etc.
This course's contents at large are based on the following book.
Satoshi Kodama & Natutaka (2018), EXPLORING BIOETHICS THROUGH MANGA: Questions on the Meaning of "Life", Kagaku-Dojin

For Japanese Learners (日本の受講生の方へ)