A clarification on the Boorse–Wakefield debate about health: Is the theoretical/therapeutic distinction dispensable?

Analysis 82 (4):673-681 (2022)
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Although Boorse’s and Wakefield’s accounts of health are generally regarded as competing ones, they are in fact so only if they are aimed at the same concept. Some remarks made by Boorse and Wakefield, however, leave it unclear whether they are. On one possible interpretation, Boorse’s account aims at analysing a theoreticalconcept of abnormality, which ought to be distinguished from a more clinicalor therapeuticconcept, whereas Wakefield’s account aims at analysing a clinicalor therapeuticconcept. The debate between Boorse and Wakefield would then either be merely terminological, or would boil down to whether Boorse is correct to assert the existence of a theoreticalconcept of abnormality which ought to be distinguished from a clinicalor therapeuticone. This paper aims to clarify what is at stake between Boorse and Wakefield, by maintaining that their accounts are most plausibly interpreted as both being aimed towards a theoreticalconcept of abnormality.



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Antoine C. Dussault
Centre Interuniversitaire De Recherche Sur La Science Et La Technologie (CIRST)

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Health as a theoretical concept.Christopher Boorse - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (4):542-573.
A Second Rebuttal On Health.Christopher Boorse - 2014 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 39 (6):683-724.
Wright on functions.Christopher Boorse - 1976 - Philosophical Review 85 (1):70-86.

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