Medical Ethics: A Natural Law Perspective

June 25-July 1, 2017
Princeton, New Jersey

This seminar will examine the most important ethical questions that arise in the everyday practice of medicine. The framework of its analysis will be the theory of natural law that developed from the synthesis of ancient Greek thought (including the Hippocratic corpus) with Judaism and then Christianity. This framework will be contrasted with principlism and consequentialism as participants consider what sort of practice medicine is, whether it has a rational end or goal, and how medicine and the goods that medicine seeks fit within the broader scope of human goods.

Issues to be covered include the nature of the doctor-patient relationship; the limits of medicine; the meaning of autonomy; the place of conscience in the physician’s work; the difference between an intended effect and a side effect; proportionality; human dignity; sexuality and reproduction; the beginning of life; disability; end-of-life care; and death. The seminar will consider an array of common clinical ethical cases and discuss what medicine, and ethics, requires in those scenarios. In the end, participants will develop intellectual tools that have for hundreds of years helped physicians discern how to practice medicine well (to be a good physician) in the face of medicine’s moral and clinical complexities.

Click here to view the seminar flyer.

Christopher O. Tollefsen, University of South Carolina
Farr A. Curlin, MD, Duke University

This seminar is open to entering and current medical students.

Registration Fee and Facilities
A $200 non-refundable registration fee will be required of all accepted students. This fee covers room and board for the duration of the seminar.

Application Requirements and Instructions:
All applicants must submit the following forms and documents via e-mail to

1. Curriculum vitae or resume, including your nationality.
2. Cover letter discussing the reasons for your interest in the seminar, an overview of any relevant experience in the seminar’s topic. Please explain how you found out about the seminar.

Applications will be considered on a rolling basis until April 26th.

Email Felix Miller at