The concept of disease: Structure and change

Philosophical Explorations 29:445-478 (1996)
Abstract
By contrasting Hippocratic and nineteenth century theories of disease, this paper describes important conceptual changes that have taken place in the history of medicine. Disease concepts are presented as causal networks that represent the relations among the symptoms, causes, and treatment of a disease. The transition to the germ theory of disease produced dramatic conceptual changes as the result of a radically new view of disease causation. An analogy between disease and fermentation was important for two of the main developers of the germ theory of disease, Pasteur and Lister. Attention to the development of germ concepts shows the need for a referential account of conceptual change to complement a representational account.
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P. Thagard (1998). Ulcers and Bacteria I: Discovery and Acceptance. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 29 (1):107-136.
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