On a naturalist theory of health: a critique

J. David Guerrero
University of Calgary
This paper examines the most influential naturalist theory of health, Christopher Boorse’s ‘biostatistical theory’ . I argue that the BST is an unsuitable candidate for the rôle that Boorse has cast it to play, namely, to underpin medicine with a theoretical, value-free science of health and disease. Following the literature, I distinguish between “real” changes and “mere Cambridge changes” in terms of the difference between an individual’s intrinsic and relational properties and argue that the framework of the BST essentially implies a Cambridge-change criterion. The examination reveals that this implicit criterion commits the BST to the troubling view that an individual could go from being diseased to healthy, or vice versa, without any physiological change in that individual. Two problems follow: the current framework of the BST is ill-equipped to formally embrace Cambridge changes and it is theoretically dubious. The arguments advanced here are not limited to the BST; I suggest they extend to any naturalist claim to underpin medical practice with a value-free theory of health and disease defined in terms of an evolutionary view of biological fitness
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2009.12.008
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References found in this work BETA

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.
On the Distinction Between Disease and Illness.Christopher Boorse - 1975 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 5 (1):49-68.
A Rebuttal on Health.Christopher Boorse - 1997 - In James M. Humber & Robert F. Almeder (eds.), What is Disease? Humana Press. pp. 1--134.

View all 19 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

A Second Rebuttal On Health.Christopher Boorse - 2014 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 39 (6):683-724.
Rethinking Health: Healthy or Healthier Than?S. Andrew Schroeder - 2013 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 64 (1):131-159.
Health, Naturalism, and Functional Efficiency.Daniel M. Hausman - 2012 - Philosophy of Science 79 (4):519-541.
Human Enhancement: Enhancing Health or Harnessing Happiness?Bjørn Hofmann - 2019 - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 16 (1):87-98.
Is “Chronic Kidney Disease” a Disease?Benjamin T. H. Smart, Richard J. Stevens & Jan Y. Verbakel - 2018 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 24 (5):1033-1040.

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