Philosophy of Science 44 (4):542-573 (1977)

Authors
Christopher Boorse
University of Delaware
Abstract
This paper argues that the medical conception of health as absence of disease is a value-free theoretical notion. Its main elements are biological function and statistical normality, in contrast to various other ideas prominent in the literature on health. Apart from universal environmental injuries, diseases are internal states that depress a functional ability below species-typical levels. Health as freedom from disease is then statistical normality of function, i.e., the ability to perform all typical physiological functions with at least typical efficiency. This conception of health is as value-free as statements of biological function. The view that health is essentially value-laden, held by most writers on the topic, seems to have one of two sources: an assumption that health judgments must be practical judgments about the treatment of patients, or a commitment to "positive" health beyond the absence of disease. I suggest that the assumption is mistaken, the commitment possibly misdescribed
Keywords Function   Teleology   Explanation   Biology   Philosophy of Science
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DOI 10.1086/288768
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References found in this work BETA

The Structure of Science.Ernest Nagel - 1961 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):275-275.
On the Distinction Between Disease and Illness.Christopher Boorse - 1975 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 5 (1):49-68.
Wright on Functions.Christopher Boorse - 1976 - Philosophical Review 85 (1):70-86.
Teleology and the Logical Structure of Function Statements.William C. Wimsatt - 1972 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 3 (1):1-80.
The Myth of Mental Illness.Thomas S. Szasz - 2004 - In Arthur Caplan, James J. McCartney & Dominic A. Sisti (eds.), Ethics. Georgetown University Press. pp. 43--50.

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Citations of this work BETA

A Second Rebuttal On Health.Christopher Boorse - 2014 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 39 (6):683-724.
The Teleological Notion of 'Function'.Karen Neander - 1991 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 69 (4):454 – 468.
Disease.Rachel Cooper - 2002 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 33 (2):263-282.

View all 366 citations / Add more citations

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