Hempelian and Kuhnian approaches in the philosophy of medicine: The semmelweis case

Semmelweis’s investigations of puerperal fever are some of the most interesting in the history of medicine. This paper considers Hempel’s analysis of the Semmelweis case. It argues that this analysis is inadequate and needs to be supplemented by some Kuhnian ideas. Kuhn’s notion of paradigm needs to be modified to apply to medicine in order to take account of the classification schemes involved in medical theorising. However with a suitable modification it provides an explanation of Semmelweis’s failure which is argued to be superior to some of the external reasons often given. Despite this success in applying Kuhn’s ideas to medicine, it is argued that these ideas must be further modified to take account of the fact that medicine is not a natural science but primarily a practice designed to prevent and cure diseases
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2004.12.003
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 16,707
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (2007). Interpreting Causality in the Health Sciences. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (2):157 – 170.
Alexander Bird (2010). Eliminative Abduction: Examples From Medicine. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 41 (4):345-352.
Raphael Scholl (2013). Causal Inference, Mechanisms, and the Semmelweis Case. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 44 (1):66-76.

View all 10 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles
H. Radder (1997). Philosophy and History of Science: Beyond the Kuhnian Paradigm. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 28 (4):633-655.
B. Pourciau (2000). Intuitionism as a (Failed) Kuhnian Revolution in Mathematics. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 31 (2):297-329.
Thomas Kenner (1985). Philosophy of Medicine in Austria. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 6 (1).

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

34 ( #95,542 of 1,726,249 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

3 ( #231,316 of 1,726,249 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.