David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 19 (3):277-293 (1998)
The purpose of this paper is to elaborate on the notion of clinical medicine as a hermeneutical enterprise and to bridge the gap between the general perspectives of hermeneutics and the particularities of medical practice. The case of a patient with low back pain is analyzed. The discussion centers around the metaphor of the patient as a text and a model of five social discourses about low back pain. The problems addressed are: (1) the nature of a moral experience, (2) the variety of available texts, (3) the difference between the doctor's and patient's narratives, and (4) the patient's and doctor's responsibility regarding the existential, biographical meaning of an illness. Although many problems are left unsolved, it is argued that from a philosophical point of view the notion of medicine as a hermeneutical enterprise opens up the possibility of gaining insight in the foundations of the clinical encounter.
|Keywords||the body as a text clinical judgment hermeneutics interpretation low back pain medical ethics moral experience narrativity patient-physician relationship|
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