Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 47 (2):311-330 (2022)

Francesco Gagliardi
Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza (PhD)
The nosological diagnosis is a particular type of nontheoretical diagnosis consisting of identifying the disease that afflicts the patient without explaining the underlying etiopathological mechanisms. Its origins are within the essentialist point of view on the nature of diseases, which dates back at least to 18th-century taxonomy studies. In this article, we propose a model of nosological diagnosis as a two-phase process composed of the categorization of inductive inferences and argumentations by analogy. In the inductive phase, disease entities are identified by means of typicality-based categorization processes, and meaningful clinical samples are learned ; in the subsequent phase, those samples are used as the bases of argumentations by analogy to obtain a diagnosis for a given patient. This model extends the prototype resemblance theory of disease including also the exemplar theory proposed in cognitive science and, moreover, it frames the clinical activity of nosological diagnosis and how it can be explained within the theory of argumentation. According to it, diagnosis based on the recognition of a typical syndrome is explained in terms of the prototype theory of categorization and the antisymmetrical argumentation by analogy, while diagnosis based on a comparison with a previous clinical case is explained by the exemplar theory of categorization and by the symmetrical argumentation by analogy.
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DOI 10.1093/jmp/jhab048
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