Dr Tom Kerns
North Seattle Community College


Assignment for week eight

This week we begin a new segment of the course, viz., an examination of the ethical and public policy issues surrounding environmentally induced illnesses. Environmentally induced illnesses present us with ethical and policy challenges unlike those presented by infectious, or degenerative, or any other kinds diseases. And I hope you’ll begin to see how significant these issues are.

The book you’ll be reading this week and next is literally the only book out there (so far) that looks at these illnesses from the point of view of public health ethics, so it’s the one we’re stuck with (magnificently and superbly well written as it is...).

I definitely apologize for the price of this book, though. If I’d had anything to say about it the book would have been produced as a $4.95 mass market paperback, and the author would have earned about four cents from each copy. But publishers, unfortunately, make all those decisions. In any case, the amount of the cover price that ends up going to the author on scholarly books like this is truly miniscule, so that would not be any incentive for authors to ask people to buy or read their books. StilI I do feel bad that people have to pay this much for it. But it is literally the only book out there that examines environmentally induced illnesses from a specifically ethical point of view. So if we’re going to study that – and I think it’s an important thing to study – this is the book we’re stuck with.

We’ll be reading it over two weeks, the first half this week and the second half next week.. So this first week you’ll be reading the Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1 (Data), and Chapter 2 (Principles). That takes you up to page 153.

Next week you’ll be reading Chapter 3 (Modest Proposals) and Chapter 4 (Brick Walls), as well as the conclusion and a couple of appendices. So that adds up to about 150pp for each of these two weeks. There is also a writing assignment for each of the two weeks.

So here's the assignment:

The reading assignment for this week is to read the Preface, Introduction, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2 of Environmentally Induced Illness: Ethics, Risk Assessment and Human Rights.

The writing assignment is to pick three ideas or facts or claims from the Preface, Introduction or chapter 1. Then for each of those three ideas,

a. quote a passage that expresses that idea or fact or claim;
b. explain in your own words what you understand the author to be saying in that passage you’ve quoted; and
c. write a couple of sentences saying what you think about that idea and the passage you’ve quoted.

So that means you’ll be posting three separate messages to the classroom, each of which will have those three separately labeled elements, a, b, and c.

Then you'll do the same for chapter 2: pick three ideas or facts or claims that stood out for you, and post a message about each one. Each message will include those three clearly labeled parts, a, b, and c.

In addition to these formally assigned postings, of course, there should also be the more informal postings about any other ideas or questions or arguments that strike you.

These messages will all be posted into the Classroom Discussion folder.

It is not necessary that you complete the entire reading assignment before posting your first message. Discussions should probably be ongoing during the time you are reading the book. In any case, you should start posting discussion messages, whether as part of this formal assignment or just as informal reactions to what you are reading, by Friday (Saturday at the latest).