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Summary

In the debate about the concept of disease the term is usually used in a broad sense, to include any non-healthy condition (such as injuries, poisoning, etc.) and interchangeably with ‘pathology’. The debate has focused on two main views, naturalism and normativism, and the issue of whether disease and health can be defined in a way that is value-neutral. Some recent work challenges the assumptions of this debate, such as that disease is a concept structured around necessary and sufficient conditions, and that philosophical analysis should focus on a biomedical notion of disease. Associated with this, other conceptual structures and alternative notions taking pragmatic, epidemiological, or public health perspectives have been put forward.

Key works

The naturalist position is represented by the biostatistical theory, developed by Christopher Boorse in several classic papers (1977; 1975; 1976) and defended against critiques in 1997 and 2014. Normativist views are developed by, for example, Canguilhem et al 1978, Nordenfelt 1987, and Cooper 2002. Some argue that disease involves both descriptive and evaluative aspects, a position referred to as either a hybrid theory or as weak normativism, for example Wakefield 2014 and Ereshefsky 2009. Critiques of the traditional debate and alternative approaches are provided by Schwartz 2007 and Sadegh-Zadeh 2000

Introductions Cooper 2017; Murphy 2015; Boorse 2011
Related categories

665 found
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1 — 50 / 665
  1. Do Feeding and Eating Disorders Fit the General Definition of Mental Disorder?M. Cristina Amoretti - forthcoming - Topoi.
  2. On Recovery: Re-Directing the Concept by Differentiation of its Meanings.Yael Friedman - forthcoming - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy.
    Recovery is a commonly used concept in both professional and everyday contexts. Yet despite its extensive use, it has not drawn much philosophical attention. In this paper, I question the common understanding of recovery, show how the concept is inadequate, and introduce new and much needed terminology. I argue that recovery glosses over important distinctions and even misrepresents the process of moving away from malady as "going back" to a former state of health. It does not invite important nuances needed (...)
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  3. Towards a socially constructed and objective concept of mental disorder.Anne-Marie Gagné-Julien - forthcoming - Synthese:1-26.
    In this paper, I argue for a new way to understand the integration of facts and values in the concept of mental disorder that has the potential to avoid the flaws of previous hybrid approaches. I import conceptual tools from the account of procedural objectivity defended by Helen Longino to resolve the controversy over the definition of mental disorder. My argument is threefold: I first sketch the history of the debate opposing objectivists and constructivists and focus on the criticisms that (...)
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  4. Infinity, Technology, Degeneracy: A Note on Werkhoven’s Dispositional Theory of Health.Shane N. Glackin - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz033.
    Werkhoven’s ‘A Dispositional Theory of Health’ is an important and original contribution to debates about the disease concept, which persuasively demonstrates that dispositions must play some role in a full account of what it is to be healthy or ill. Unfortunately, as a theory, it cannot as it stands be correct.I first demonstrate what appears to be a significant, and possibly fatal, flaw; the proliferation of dispositions which Werkhoven’s theory requires makes impossible, at least in the absence of significant further (...)
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  5. The Value-Ladenness of Psychopathy.Marko Jurjako & Luca Malatesti - forthcoming - In Luca Malatesti, John McMillan & Predrag Šustar (eds.), Psychopathy: Its Uses, Validity and Status. Springer.
    The recurring claim that the construct of psychopathy is value laden often is not qualified in enough detail. The chapters in this part of the volume, instead, investigate in depth the role and significance of values in different aspects of the construct of psychopathy. Following these chapters, but also by offering a background to them, we show how certain values are involved in the characterisation of psychopathy, inform societal needs satisfied by this construct, and have a central role in determining (...)
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  6. From Blocked Flows to Suppressed Emotions: The Life of a Trope.Stewart Justman - forthcoming - Medical Humanities:medhum-2020-011878.
    Internal blockages and build-ups cause disease: traditionally, this principle seemed intuitive both to professionals and the laity, explained conditions as diverse as melancholy and scurvy, and justified the use of evacuative treatments to get rid of noxious matter. With the collapse of humoral medicine and the establishment of the concept of specific causation, one might have expected time-honoured tropes of obstruction to die off. They did not die off, but moved with the times and adapted to new conditions. Emphasis swung (...)
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  7. Not Merely the Absence of Disease: A Genealogy of the WHO’s Positive Health Definition.Lars Thorup Larsen - forthcoming - History of the Human Sciences:095269512199535.
    The 1948 constitution of the World Health Organization defines health as ‘a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity’. It was a bold and revolutionary health idea to gain international consensus in a period characterized by fervent anti-communism. This article explores the genealogy of the health definition and demonstrates how it was possible to expand the scope of health, redefine it as ‘well-being’, and overcome ideological resistance to progressive and international (...)
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  8. Mild Mania and the Theory of Health: A Response to "Mild Mania and Well-Being".Professor Lennart Nordenfelt - forthcoming - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 1 (3):179-184.
    In this response to "Mild Mania and Well-Being" I propose a different analytic strategy and scrutinize the presented case of mild mania within the framework of a holistic theory of health. I distinguish between the following fundamental questions: (1) is mild mania a disease or illness? (2) does the mild mania of Mr. M. reduce his health significantly? and (3) should Mr. M. be recommended treatment with lithium or not? I answer the first question in the affirmative. I propose some (...)
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  9. The Illness-Disease Dichotomy and the Biological-Clinical Splitting of Medicine.Luigi Tesio & Marco Buzzoni - forthcoming - Medical Humanities:medhum-2020-011873.
    In a recent paper, Sharpe and Greco argue that some clinical conditions, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, should be treated by altering the patient's experience and response to symptoms without necessarily searching for an underlying cause. As a result, we should allow for the existence of ‘illnesses without diseases’. Wilshire and Ward reply that this possibility requires unwarranted causal assumptions about the psychosocial origins of conditions not predicted by a disease model. In so doing, it is argued that Sharpe and (...)
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  10. Naturalism, Disease, and Levels of Functional Description.Somogy Varga & David Miguel Gray - forthcoming - Journal of Philosophy and Medicine.
    The paper engages Christopher Boorse’s (1975, 1976, 1977, 1987, 1997, 2014) Bio-Statistical Theory (BST). In its current form, BST runs into a significant challenge. For BST to account for its central tenet—that lower-level part-dysfunction is sufficient for higher-level pathology—it must provide criteria for how to decide which lower-level parts are the ones to be analyzed for health or pathology. As BST is a naturalistic theory, such choices must be based solely on naturalistic considerations. An argument will be provided to show (...)
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  11. Disease as a Deontic Construct.Kazem Sadegh-Zadeh - 2nd ed. 2015 - In Handbook of Analytic Philosophy of Medicine. Springer Verlag.
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  12. Aging Biomarkers and the Measurement of Health and Risk.Sara Green & Line Hillersdal - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (1):1-23.
    Prevention of age-related disorders is increasingly in focus of health policies, and it is hoped that early intervention on processes of deterioration can promote healthier and longer lives. New opportunities to slow down the aging process are emerging with new fields such as personalized nutrition. Data-intensive research has the potential to improve the precision of existing risk factors, e.g., to replace coarse-grained markers such as blood cholesterol with more detailed multivariate biomarkers. In this paper, we follow an attempt to develop (...)
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  13. How to Draw the Line Between Health and Disease? Start with Suffering.Bjørn Hofmann - 2021 - Health Care Analysis 29 (2):127-143.
    How can we draw the line between health and disease? This crucial question of demarcation has immense practical implications and has troubled scholars for ages. The question will be addressed in three steps. First, I will present an important contribution by Rogers and Walker who argue forcefully that no line can be drawn between health and disease. However, a closer analysis of their argument reveals that a line-drawing problem for disease-related features does not necessarily imply a line-drawing problem for disease (...)
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  14. On Grounds, Anchors, and Diseases: A Reply to Glackin.Alex James Miller Tate & Thomas Davies - 2021 - Philosophical Quarterly 71 (2):428-437.
    Shane Glackin's 2019 Philosophical Quarterly article aims to offer a framework for understanding the philosophical debate about the nature of disease and utilise this framework to reply to several standard objections to normativist theories of disease. Specifically, Glackin claims his model avoids three central challenges to normativism, which we term the ‘Flippancy Problem’, ‘Repugnancy Problem’, and the ‘Explanatory Problem’. Although we find Glackin's framework helpful in clarifying the terrain of the debate, we argue these three challenges continue to afflict his (...)
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  15. Philosophy of Psychiatry.Jonathan Y. Tsou - 2021 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
    Jonathan Y. Tsou examines and defends positions on central issues in philosophy of psychiatry. The positions defended assume a naturalistic and realist perspective and are framed against skeptical perspectives on biological psychiatry. Issues addressed include the reality of mental disorders; mechanistic and disease explanations of abnormal behavior; definitions of mental disorder; natural and artificial kinds in psychiatry; biological essentialism and the projectability of psychiatric categories; looping effects and the stability of mental disorders; psychiatric classification; and the validity of the DSM's (...)
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  16. Biological Normativity: A New Hope for Naturalism?Walter Veit - 2021 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 24 (2):291-301.
    Since Boorse [Philos Sci 44:542–573, 1977] published his paper “Health as a theoretical concept” one of the most lively debates within philosophy of medicine has been on the question of whether health and disease are in some sense ‘objective’ and ‘value-free’ or ‘subjective’ and ‘value-laden’. Due to the apparent ‘failure’ of pure naturalist, constructivist, or normativist accounts, much in the recent literature has appealed to more conciliatory approaches or so-called ‘hybrid accounts’ of health and disease. A recent paper by Matthewson (...)
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  17. The concept of disease in the time of COVID-19.Maria Cristina Amoretti & Elisabetta Lalumera - 2020 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 41 (5):203-221.
    Philosophers of medicine have formulated different accounts of the concept of disease. Which concept of disease one assumes has implications for what conditions count as diseases and, by extension, who may be regarded as having a disease and for who may be accorded the social privileges and personal responsibilities associated with being sick. In this article, we consider an ideal diagnostic test for coronavirus disease 2019 infection with respect to four groups of people—positive and asymptomatic; positive and symptomatic; negative; and (...)
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  18. Doctors Without ‘Disorders’.Lisa Bortolotti - 2020 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 94 (1):163-184.
    On one influential view, the problems that should attract medical attention involve a disorder, because the goals of medical practice are to prevent and treat disorders. Based on this view, if there are no mental disorders then the status of psychiatry as a medical field is challenged. In this paper, I observe that it is often difficult to establish whether the problems that attract medical attention involve a disorder, and argue that none of the notions of disorder proposed so far (...)
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  19. The Concept of Disorder Revisited: Robustly VAlue-Laden Despite Change.I.—Rachel Cooper - 2020 - Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 94 (1):141-161.
    Our concept of disorder is changing. This causes problems for projects of descriptive conceptual analysis. Conceptual change means that a criterion that was necessary for a condition to be a disorder at one time may cease to be necessary a relatively short time later. Nevertheless, some conceptually based claims will be fairly robust. In particular, the claim that no adequate account of disorder can appeal only to biological facts can be maintained for the foreseeable future. This is because our current (...)
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  20. Medical disorder, harm, and damage.Neil Feit - 2020 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 41 (1):39-52.
    Jerome Wakefield’s harmful dysfunction analysis of medical disorder is an influential hybrid of naturalist and normative theories. In order to conclude that a condition is a disorder, according to the HDA, one must determine both that it results from a failure of a physical or psychological mechanism to perform its natural function and that it is harmful. In a recent issue of this journal, I argued that the HDA entails implausible judgments about which disorders there are and how they are (...)
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  21. Diseases Are Not Adaptations and Neither Are Their Causes: A Response to Ardern’s "Dysfunction, Disease, and the Limits of Selection".Paul E. Griffiths & John Matthewson - 2020 - Biological Theory 15 (3):136-142.
    In a recent article in this journal, Zachary Ardern criticizes our view that the most promising candidate for a naturalized criterion of disease is the "selected effects" account of biological function and dysfunction. Here we reply to Ardern’s criticisms and, more generally, clarify the relationship between adaptation and dysfunction in the evolution of health and disease.
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  22. A naturalist response to Kingma’s critique of naturalist accounts of disease.David B. Hershenov - 2020 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 41 (2):83-97.
    Elselijn Kingma maintains that Christopher Boorse and other naturalists in the philosophy of medicine cannot deliver the value-free account of disease that they promise. Even if disease is understood as dysfunction and that notion can be applied in a value-free manner, values still manifest themselves in the justification for picking one particular operationalization of dysfunction over a number of competing alternatives. Disease determinations depend upon comparisons within a reference class vis-à-vis reaching organism goals. Boorse considers reference classes for a species (...)
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  23. What Does It Take to Be a Brain Disorder?Anneli Jefferson - 2020 - Synthese 197 (1):249-262.
    In this paper, I address the question whether mental disorders should be understood to be brain disorders and what conditions need to be met for a disorder to be rightly described as a brain disorder. I defend the view that mental disorders are autonomous and that a condition can be a mental disorder without at the same time being a brain disorder. I then show the consequences of this view. The most important of these is that brain differences underlying mental (...)
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  24. The Irrelevance of Harm for a Theory of Disease.Dane Muckler & James Stacey Taylor - 2020 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 45 (3):332-349.
    Normativism holds that there is a close conceptual link between disease and disvalue. We challenge normativism by advancing an argument against a popular normativist theory, Jerome Wakefield’s harmful dysfunction account. Wakefield maintains that medical disorders are breakdowns in evolved mechanisms that cause significant harm to the organism. We argue that Wakefield’s account is not a promising way to distinguish between disease and health because being harmful is neither necessary nor sufficient for a dysfunction to be a disorder. Counterexamples to the (...)
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  25. Mental Disorder as Both Natural and Normative: Developing the Normative Dimension of the 3e Conceptual Framework for Psychopathology.Kristopher Nielsen & Tony Ward - 2020 - Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 40 (2):107-123.
  26. Galen on the Definition of Disease.Luis Alejandro Salas - 2020 - American Journal of Philology 141 (4):603-634.
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  27. Theoretical and Clinical Disease and the Biostatistical Theory.Steven Tresker - 2020 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 82:101249.
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  28. Epistemic Authority, Philosophical Explication, and the Bio-Statistical Theory of Disease.Somogy Varga - 2020 - Erkenntnis 85 (4):937-956.
    Christopher Boorse’s Health care ethics: an introduction, Temple University Press, Philadelphia, pp 359–393, 1987; in Humber, Almeder, Totowa What is disease?, Humana Press, New York City, pp 1–134, 1997; J Med Philos, 39:683–724, 2014) Bio-Statistical Theory comprehends diseases in terms of departures from natural norms, which involve an objectively describable deviation from the proper physiological or psychological functioning of parts of the human organism. I argue that while recent revisions and additional considerations shield the BST from a number of issues (...)
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  29. Harm as a Necessary Component of the Concept of Medical Disorder: Reply to Muckler and Taylor.Jerome C. Wakefield & Jordan A. Conrad - 2020 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 45 (3):350-370.
    Wakefield’s harmful dysfunction analysis asserts that the concept of medical disorder includes a naturalistic component of dysfunction and a value component, both of which are required for disorder attributions. Muckler and Taylor, defending a purely naturalist, value-free understanding of disorder, argue that harm is not necessary for disorder. They provide three examples of dysfunctions that, they claim, are considered disorders but are entirely harmless: mild mononucleosis, cowpox that prevents smallpox, and minor perceptual deficits. They also reject the proposal that dysfunctions (...)
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  30. Conceptualising Illness and Disease: Reflections on Sharpe and Greco.Carolyn Wilshire & Tony Ward - 2020 - Medical Humanities 46 (4):532-536.
    In a recent paper, Sharpe and Greco suggest that chronic fatigue syndrome/myalgic encephalomyelitis can be viewed as an instance of “illness without disease”, and consequently, treatment should be directed towards altering the patient’s experience of, and response to, their symptoms. We discuss two broad issues that arise from Sharpe and Greco’s article, one relating to the assumptions they make about MECFS and its treatment specifically, and the other relating to their conceptualisation of the illness/disease dichotomy. We argue that the term (...)
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  31. An Analytic Framework for Conceptualisations of Disease: Nine Structuring Questions and How Some Conceptualisations of Alzheimer’s Disease Can Lead to ‘Diseasisation’.Kristin Zeiler - 2020 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 23 (4):677-693.
    According to the US National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association, Alzheimer’s disease should be understood as a biological construct. It can be diagnosed based on AD-characteristic biomarkers only, even if AD biomarkers can be present many years before a person experiences any symptoms of AD. The NIA-AA’s conceptualisation of AD radically challenges past AD conceptualisations. This article offers ananalytic framework for the clarification and analysis of meanings and effects of conceptualisations of diseases such as that of AD. This (...)
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  32. We Should Eliminate the Concept of Disease From Mental Health.Nicholas Agar - 2019 - Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (9):591-591.
    Russell Powell and Eric Scarffe1 are pluralists about disease. They offer their thickly normative account to meet the needs of doctors, but they allow that a different concept of disease might work better for zoologists. In this commentary, I grant that Powell and Scarffe’s thickly normative evaluation of biological dysfunction works well in many medicinal contexts. Powell and Scarffe respond effectively to eliminativists—we should retain the concept of disease. But the paper’s pluralism and focus on the specific needs of institutions (...)
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  33. A Potential Tension in DSM-5: The General Definition of Mental Disorder Versus Some Specific Diagnostic Criteria.M. Cristina Amoretti & Elisabetta Lalumera - 2019 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 44 (1):85-108.
    The general concept of mental disorder specified in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is definitional in character: a mental disorder might be identified with a harmful dysfunction. The manual also contains the explicit claim that each individual mental disorder should meet the requirements posed by the definition. The aim of this article is two-fold. First, we shall analyze the definition of the superordinate concept of mental disorder to better understand what necessary criteria actually (...)
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  34. Harm Should Not Be a Necessary Criterion for Mental Disorder: Some Reflections on the DSM-5 Definition of Mental Disorder.Maria Cristina Amoretti & Elisabetta Lalumera - 2019 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 40 (4):321-337.
    The general definition of mental disorder stated in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders seems to identify a mental disorder with a harmful dysfunction. However, the presence of distress or disability, which may be bracketed as the presence of harm, is taken to be merely usual, and thus not a necessary requirement: a mental disorder can be diagnosed as such even if there is no harm at all. In this paper, we focus on the (...)
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  35. The Biopsychosocial Model of Health and Disease: New Philosophical and Scientific Developments.Derek Bolton & Grant Gillett - 2019 - Springer Verlag.
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  36. On Illness, Disease, and Priority: A Framework for More Fruitful Debates.Anke Bueter - 2019 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 22 (3):463-474.
    The distinction between ‘disease’ and ‘illness’ has played an important role in the debate between naturalism and normativism. Both employ these notions, yet disagree on whether to assign priority to ‘disease’ or ‘illness’. I argue that this discussion suffers from implicit differences in the underlying interpretations: While for naturalists the distinction between ‘disease’ and ‘illness’ is one between a descriptive and a prescriptive notion, for normativists it is one between cause and effect. This discrepancy is connected to different interpretations of (...)
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  37. Whose Values? Whose Reasons? A Commentary on ‘Rethinking Disease: A Fresh Diagnosis and a New Philosophical Treatment’ by Powell and Scarffe.Havi Carel - 2019 - Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (9):592-593.
    In this short commentary, I reflect on the new definition of disease proposed by Powell and Scarffe. I suggest that the method they appeal to as objective, namely, rational justification, is open to several criticisms, which I outline and discuss.
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  38. Hegel on Addiction.Katerina Deligiorgi - 2019 - Hegel Bulletin 40 (3):398-424.
    The aim of this paper is to show how certain distinctive elements of Hegel's theory of action can provide a fresh philosophical perspective on the phenomenon of addiction. What motivates the turn to Hegel is a set of puzzles that arise out of contemporary medical and philosophical discussions of addiction. Starting with questions concerning ongoing attempts to define addiction, the paper examines the resources needed for addiction to be classed as a disorder, as it commonly is. Provisionally settling with the (...)
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  39. Grounded Disease: Constructing the Social From the Biological in Medicine.Shane N. Glackin - 2019 - Philosophical Quarterly 69 (275):258-276.
    Social Constructivism about the disease concept has generally been taken to ignore the fundamental biological reality underlying diseases, as well as to fall foul of several apparently compelling objections. In this paper, I explain how the metaphysical relation of grounding can be used to tie a socially constructed account of diseases and their classification to their underlying biological and behavioural states. I then generalize the position by disambiguating several varieties of normativism, including a particularly strong ‘placeholder’ version of social constructivism, (...)
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  40. Mental Disorder: Ameliorating Stigmatization and Reconceptualizing Treatment.Jennifer Gleason - 2019 - Dissertation, Ohio State University
    In this dissertation, I examine our mental health concepts to see what work they are currently doing as well as what work they could be doing. In 1976, Christopher Boorse stated that the mental health literature is a “web of obscurities” (p. 51). To resolve some of this confusion, I argue that we need to consider the goals we should have for our mental health concepts and then give accounts of those concepts that meet our stated goals. I argue that (...)
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  41. The Ontological Concept of Disease and the Clinical Empiricism of Thomas Sydenham.Ruy J. Henríquez Garrido - 2019 - Kairos 22 (1):161-178.
    The clinical empiricism of Thomas Sydenham and his definition of especie morbosae represented a substantial turn in the medicine of his time. This turn supposed the shift towards an ontological conception of diseases, from a qualitative to quantitative interpretation. Sydenham’s clinical proposal had a great influence on empiricism philosophical thinking, particularly in John Locke and his delimitation of knowledge. The dialogue between medicine and philosophy, set out by Sydenham-Locke, reactivates the problem of the clinical and theoretical foundations of medical thought, (...)
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  42. Collectively Ill: A Preliminary Case That Groups Can Have Psychiatric Disorders.Ginger Hoffman - 2019 - Synthese 196 (6):2217-2241.
    In the 2000s, several psychiatrists cited the lack of relational disorders in the DSM-IV as one of the two most glaring gaps in psychiatric nosology, and campaigned for their inclusion in the DSM-5. This campaign failed, however, presumably in part due to serious “ontological concerns” haunting such disorders. Here, I offer a path to quell such ontological concerns, adding to previous conceptual work by Jerome Wakefield and Christian Perring. Specifically, I adduce reasons to think that collective disorders are compatible with (...)
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  43. Collectively Ill: A Preliminary Case That Groups Can Have Psychiatric Disorders.Ginger Hoffman - 2019 - Synthese 196 (6):2217-2241.
    In the 2000s, several psychiatrists cited the lack of relational disorders in the DSM-IV as one of the two most glaring gaps in psychiatric nosology, and campaigned for their inclusion in the DSM-5. This campaign failed, however, presumably in part due to serious “ontological concerns” haunting such disorders. Here, I offer a path to quell such ontological concerns, adding to previous conceptual work by Jerome Wakefield and Christian Perring. Specifically, I adduce reasons to think that collective disorders are compatible with (...)
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  44. Is Psychopathy a Harmful Dysfunction?Marko Jurjako - 2019 - Biology and Philosophy 34 (5):1-23.
    In their paper “Is psychopathy a mental disease?”, Thomas Nadelhoffer and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong argue that according to any plausible account of mental disorder, neural and psychological abnormalities correlated with psychopathy should be regarded as signs of a mental disorder. I oppose this conclusion by arguing that at least on a naturalistically grounded account, such as Wakefield’s ‘Harmful Dysfunction’ view, currently available empirical data and evolutionary considerations indicate that psychopathy is not a mental disorder. For an online version of the paper, (...)
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  45. Infertility, Epistemic Risk, and Disease Definitions.Rebecca Kukla - 2019 - Synthese 196 (11):4409-4428.
    I explore the role that values and interests, especially ideological interests, play in managing and balancing epistemic risks in medicine. I will focus in particular on how diseases are identified and operationalized. Before we can do biomedical research on a condition, it needs to be identified as a medical condition, and it needs to be operationalized in a way that lets us identify sufferers, measure progress, and so forth. I will argue that each time we do this, we engage in (...)
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  46. The Harm of Medical Disorder as Harm in the Damage Sense.David Limbaugh - 2019 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 40 (1):1-19.
    Jerome Wakefield has argued that a disorder is a harmful dysfunction. This paper develops how Wakefield should construe harmful in his harmful dysfunction analysis. Recently, Neil Feit has argued that classic puzzles involved in analyzing harm render Wakefield’s HDA better off without harm as a necessary condition. Whether or not one conceives of harm as comparative or non-comparative, the concern is that the HDA forces people to classify as mere dysfunction what they know to be a disorder. For instance, one (...)
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  47. Is Infertility a Disease and Does It Matter?Hane Htut Maung - 2019 - Bioethics 33 (1):43-53.
    Claims about whether or not infertility is a disease are sometimes invoked to defend or criticize the provision of state-funded treatment for infertility. In this paper, I suggest that this strategy is problematic. By exploring infertility through key approaches to disease in the philosophy of medicine, I show that there are deep theoretical disagreements regarding what subtypes of infertility qualify as diseases. Given that infertility's disease status remains unclear, one cannot uncontroversially justify or undermine its claim to medical treatment by (...)
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  48. Making Concepts Work.Rosalind J. McDougall - 2019 - Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (9):569-570.
    The articles in this issue direct our attention to the role of concepts in medical ethics. The issue includes research that defines a concept,1 research that applies concepts to illuminate the moral aspects of various elements of medicine,2 3 and research investigating the appropriate set of concepts to teach medical students.4 In their in-depth exploration of the concept of disease in this issue, Powell and Scarffe argue that our understanding of a concept should be ‘tailored to the role that the (...)
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  49. Rethinking “Disease”: A Fresh Diagnosis and a New Philosophical Treatment.Russell Powell & Eric Scarffe - 2019 - Journal of Medical Ethics 45 (9):579-588.
    Despite several decades of debate, the concept of disease remains hotly contested. The debate is typically cast as one between naturalism and normativism, with a hybrid view that combines elements of each staked out in between. In light of a number of widely discussed problems with existing accounts, some theorists argue that the concept of disease is beyond repair and thus recommend eliminating it in a wide range of practical medical contexts. Any attempt to reframe the ‘disease’ discussion should answer (...)
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  50. Rehabilitating Disease: Function, Value, and Objectivity in Medicine.Russell Powell & Eric Scarffe - 2019 - Philosophy of Science 86 (5):1168-1178.
    The concept of disease remains hotly contested. In light of problems with existing accounts, some theorists argue that the disease concept ought to be eliminated. We answer this skeptical challenge by reframing the discussion in terms of the role that the disease concept plays in the complex network of health-care institutions in which it is deployed. We argue that while prevailing accounts do not suffer from the particular defects that critics have identified, they do suffer from other deficits, and this (...)
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