Embryos, Animals, and the Environment: Ethically Ambiguous Entities and the Law

Return to Course Catalog

Spring 2013 Seminar
Meets: Th 5:00pm - 7:00pm in WCC Room 5044
2 classroom credits

Jeffrey M. Skopek, J.D., Ph.D., Academic Fellow, Petrie-Flom Center

  • Cutting across issues in bioethics, animal rights, and environmentalism, this course explores the law’s treatment of entities whose ethical status is ambiguous and contested. We will address questions such as:
  • What does it mean for something to “harm the environment”? Do different regulatory schemes answer this question differently? What if anything is wrong with paying to pollute?
  • Should animals be patentable? How does standing doctrine impact animal rights? Should the creation of human-animal hybrids be regulated, and if so, using what criteria?
  • Can an activity that significantly alters the genetics of an embryo—that changes who the resulting person is—be considered beneficial or harmful to that person? Why did embryonic stem cell research cause so much more controversy in the United States than it did in the United Kingdom? Should prenatal sex selection be prohibited, and if so, on what basis?
  • In exploring these questions, we will touch areas of law including property, tort, constitutional law, and environmental law, focusing on the interconnected resolution of legal and ethical uncertainty. Grading will be based on class participation and written work. Students can choose to write either multiple reading responses or a single research paper. The course is open to law students and other interested graduate students. There are no prerequisites.

    Subject Areas: Health Law , Regulatory Law .

    © 2014 The President and Fellows of Harvard College. All rights reserved.