Disease

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 33 (2):263-282 (2002)
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Abstract

This paper examines what it is for a condition to be a disease. It falls into two sections. In the first I examine the best existing account of disease (as proposed by Christopher Boorse) and argue that it must be rejected. In the second I outline a more acceptable account of disease. According to this account, by disease we mean a condition that it is a bad thing to have, that is such that we consider the afflicted person to have been unlucky, and that can potentially be medically treated. All three criteria must be fulfilled for a condition to be a disease. The criterion that for a condition to be a disease it must be a bad thing is required to distinguish the biologically different from the diseased. The claim that the sufferer must be unlucky is needed to distinguish diseases from conditions that are unpleasant but normal, for example teething. Finally, the claim that for a condition to be a disease it must be potentially medically treatable is needed to distinguish diseases from other types of misfortune, for example economic problems and legal problems.

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Rachel Cooper
Lancaster University

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References found in this work

The Structure of Science.Ernest Nagel - 1961 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 17 (2):275-275.
Health as a Theoretical Concept.Christopher Boorse - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (4):542-573.
Functions.Larry Wright - 1973 - Philosophical Review 82 (2):139-168.

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