Bioethics scholar Art Caplan gives public lectures at WMU

contact: Mark Schwerin
| WMU News


KALAMAZOO--A bioethics scholar from the University of Pennsylvania will address the rationing of health care in a presentation later this month at Western Michigan University.

Dr. Art Caplan, the Emmanuel and Robert Hart Director of the Center for Bioethics and the Sidney D. Caplan Professor of Bioethics at Penn, will speak at 4 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 23, in Room 2008 of the Richmond Center. His talk, titled "The Inevitability of Rationing and How to be Fair About It," is free and open to the public.

Though some argue that rationing health care can be avoided, Caplan uses demographics to prove this is simply wrong and will take up practical questions. He will explore how rationing should be handled, who should be in charge and what principles they should follow.

Caplan also will address the controversy surrounding the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine in a lunch talk the same day beginning at noon in the Fetzer Center's Putney Auditorium. The talk is titled "The HPV Vaccine Controversy: Science, Ethics and Politics" and is free and open to the public. A light lunch will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis.

Caplan joined the Penn faculty in 1994. Prior to that, he taught at the University of Minnesota, the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University. He was the associate director of the Hastings Center from 1984-1987.

Born in Boston, Caplan did his undergraduate work at Brandeis University and his graduate work at Columbia University, where he received a doctoral degree in the history and philosophy of science in 1979.

Caplan's research interests include transplantation research ethics, genetics, reproductive technologies, health policy and general bioethics. He is the author or editor of 29 books and more than 500 papers in refereed journals. His most recent books are "Smart Mice, Not So Smart People" in 2006 and the "Penn Guide to Bioethics" in 2009.

Caplan is the recipient of many awards and honors, including the McGovern Medal of the American Medical Writers Association and the Franklin Award from the City of Philadelphia. He was named a person of the Year-2001 by USA Today and was called one of the 10 most influential people in science by Discover magazine in 2008 and one of the 50 most influential people in American health care by Modern Health Care magazine.

Caplan's visit is co-sponsored by the University Center for the Humanities, the Medical Humanities Workgroup, the School of Medicine, the College of Health and Human Services, the College of Fine Arts and the Center for the Study of Ethics in Society.

For more information, call the University Center for the Humanities at (269) 387-1811 or visit