David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 33 (2):263-282 (2002)
This paper examines what it is for a condition to be a disease. It falls into two sections. In the first I examine the best existing account of disease (as proposed by Christopher Boorse) and argue that it must be rejected. In the second I outline a more acceptable account of disease. According to this account, by disease we mean a condition that it is a bad thing to have, that is such that we consider the afflicted person to have been unlucky, and that can potentially be medically treated. All three criteria must be fulfilled for a condition to be a disease. The criterion that for a condition to be a disease it must be a bad thing is required to distinguish the biologically different from the diseased. The claim that the sufferer must be unlucky is needed to distinguish diseases from conditions that are unpleasant but normal, for example teething. Finally, the claim that for a condition to be a disease it must be potentially medically treatable is needed to distinguish diseases from other types of misfortune, for example economic problems and legal problems.
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References found in this work BETA
Christopher Boorse (1997). A Rebuttal on Health. In James M. Humber & Robert F. Almeder (eds.), What is Disease? Humana Press 1--134.
Christopher Boorse (1977). Health as a Theoretical Concept. Philosophy of Science 44 (4):542-573.
Christopher Boorse (1975). On the Distinction Between Disease and Illness. Philosophy and Public Affairs 5 (1):49-68.
Christopher Boorse (1976). What a Theory of Mental Health Should Be. Journal for the Theory of Social Behaviour 6 (1):61–84.
Christopher Boorse (1976). Wright on Functions. Philosophical Review 85 (1):70-86.
Citations of this work BETA
Mark Ereshefsky (2009). Defining 'Health' and 'Disease'. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 40 (3):221-227.
Jennifer Radden (2007). Epidemic Depression and Burtonian Melancholy. Philosophical Papers 36 (3):443-464.
Daniel M. Hausman (2012). Health, Naturalism, and Functional Efficiency. Philosophy of Science 79 (4):519-541.
James Wilson (2009). Towards a Normative Framework for Public Health Ethics and Policy. Public Health Ethics 2 (2):184-194.
Rachel Cooper (2007). Aristotelian Accounts of Disease—What Are They Good For? Philosophical Papers 36 (3):427-442.
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