Disease and value: A rejection of the value-neutrality thesis

Recent philosophical attention to the language of disease has focused primarily on the question of its value-neutrality or non-neutrality. Proponents of the value-neutrality thesis symbolically combine political and other criticisms of medicine in an attack on what they see as value-infected uses of disease language. The present essay argues against two theses associated with this view: a methodological thesis which tends to divorce the analysis of disease language from the context of the practice of medicine and a substantive thesis which holds that disease language is evaluatively neutral. In particular, the essay critically focuses on the value neutral position adopted by Christopher Boorse, which he terms a functional theory of disease. The argument concerns whether or not one can have value neutral description of disease states or whether disease language essentially involves values.
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