Steps towards a theory of medical practice

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 19 (3):215-228 (1998)
Abstract
This article has a threefold intention. 1. It intends to contribute to the clarification of the question in what respect medicine may be called a science and in what respect a practice. 2. It proposes a concept of clinical methodology (including clinical-ethical aspects), as a theory of medical practice that is one component of theoretical medicine. 3. It sketches an approach and some steps towards a systematic analysis of medical-clinical practice. In the first part, the position that medicine is a practical science is criticized. It is shown that the supposed opposition of theoretical and practical sciences is misconstrued. The relevant distinctions are those between knowledge, research, and scientific practice. In the second part, an analysis of the structure and function of descriptive and normative data and of clinical knowledge and principles in clinical practice is given, and a strategy for solving the deep problems of clinical methodology and ethics is sketched.
Keywords clinical methodology  medical ethics  medical practice  practice  practical science  theory
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