Tolerance and Illness: The Politics of Medical and Psychiatric Classification

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 35 (4):449-465 (2010)
In this paper, I explore the links between liberal political theory and the evaluative nature of medical classification, arguing for stronger recognition of those links in a liberal model of medical practice. All judgments of medical or psychiatric "dysfunction," I argue, are fundamentally evaluative, reflecting our collective willingness or reluctance to tolerate and/or accommodate the conditions in question. Illness, then, is "socially constructed." But the relativist worries that this loaded phrase evokes are unfounded; patients, doctors, and communities will agree in the vast majority of cases about what counts as illness. Where they cannot come to agreement, however, we are faced with precisely the sort of dispute about values and ways of life that the institutions of the liberal state are designed to accommodate. I accordingly sketch a model of medical practice, based loosely on Jürgen Habermas's political theories, designed to maximize both our awareness and our understanding of these disputes
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DOI 10.1093/jmp/jhq035
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References found in this work BETA
Thomas S. Szasz (2004). The Myth of Mental Illness. In Arthur Caplan, James J. McCartney & Dominic A. Sisti (eds.), Ethics. Georgetown University Press 43--50.
R. Amundson (2000). Against Normal Function. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 31 (1):33-53.

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J. A. Bulcock (2010). Introduction. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 35 (4):383-395.

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