|Abstract||The thought that diseases form natural kinds tends not to sit well with the essentialist treatment of natural kinds. The essentialist’s candidates for the essences of diseases—etiological properties—rarely satisfy the essentialist’s requirement that they be necessary and sufficient for membership within the kind. Consequently philosophers of medicine have tended to back away from treating diseases as natural kinds. However, this retreat was too hasty: there are good reasons for thinking that diseases form natural kinds. The problem lies with the essentialist treatment of natural kinds, and not with treating disease as forming natural kinds. A similar revolution has taken place within the species debate, where the notion of natural kind has been ‘taken back’ from the essentialist. Borrowing the revised treatment of natural kinds from the philosophers of species and modifying it slightly, I offer a proposed treatment of disease kinds in terms of homeostatic property clusters.|
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