Error, malpractice, and the problem of universals

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 7 (3):239-250 (1982)
Abstract
This article begins with a criticism of Mclntyre and Gorovitz's account of medical error. Their theory implies that error, at least sometimes, it a necessary consequence of the inductive character of medical inquiry. The counter intuitive consequences of this account suggest that the issues surrounding induction may not be the most fertile area for developing a coherent interpretation of medical error. Given these shortcomings, I develop a new theory which assumes that the best philosophical soil for constructing a theory of medical trror is the problem of universals. I then explain the problem and how the medical universal functions within arguments concerning diagnosis and treatment. A Wittgensteinian solution to the problem is presented which emphasizes the "borderline" character of some, if not many, medical judgments. Next, an argument is offered to establish that questions of medical error are not purely professional questions. This is because the theories used to make such professional judgments permit borderline cases even under the best circumstances. Finally, while there are a number of legitimate responses to this situation, I recommend one which involves legislative action. CiteULike Connotea Del.icio.us What's this?
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