Doctor–patient-interaction is non-holistic


Abstract
In recent philosophy of mind a non-holistic view on concept possession, originally developed by Tyler Burge, has emerged as an alternative to holistic analyses of language mastery. The article discusses the implications of this view for analyses of communication in doctor—patient-interaction. The central question Burge's theory gives an answer to is this: to what extent must a doctor and a patient understand a medical term in the same way in order to communicate in the sense that they express the same concept by the term? Many empirical studies have shown that patients do not, typically, understand medical terms in the same way as doctors they encounter. Holistic approaches therefore imply that doctors and patients seldom communicate. Burge's position, on the other hand, implies that it is sufficient that patients have a minimal understanding. In an important range of cases doctors can make sure that patients have a minimal understanding by being explicit about common dictionary definitions of the terms in question
Keywords communication  doctor–patient-interaction  medical concepts  holism  medical language
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1024195316365
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