David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 15 (1):79-89 (2012)
In this paper I discuss a central objection against diseases being natural kinds—namely, that diseases are processes or transitions and hence they should not be conceptualized in the ‘substantish’ framework of natural kinds. I indicate that the objection hinges on conceiving disease kinds as phase kinds, in contrast to the non-phase, natural kinds of the exact sciences. I focus on somatic diseases and argue, via a representative comparison, that if disease kinds are phase kinds, then exact science kinds are phase kinds as well. On the other hand, if exact science kinds are non-phase kinds, then disease kinds are non-phase kinds as well. This objection should thus be rejected, under a certain caveat, though. If natural kind membership has an influence over the diachronic identity of kind members, then it is possible, in principle, to draw the phase/non-phase distinction such that an ‘ontological gap’ lies between medical kinds and exact science kinds. I show further that this caveat is unavoidable even in relation to substantive universals and ‘essential’ properties—two controversial, strong features that were traditionally associated to natural kinds.
|Keywords||Natural kinds Processes Medical kinds Phase kinds Phases Substantial changes Jonathan Lowe|
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Richard Boyd (1999). Homeostasis, Species, and Higher Taxa. In R. A. Wilson (ed.), Species: New Interdisciplinary Essays. Mit Press. 141-85.
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Judith Crane (2003). Locke's Theory of Classification. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 11 (2):249 – 259.
Robert D.'Amico (1995). Is Disease a Natural Kind? Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 20 (5):551-569.
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