Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 39 (4):329-345 (2014)

Sune Holm
University of Copenhagen
Theorists analyzing the concept of disease on the basis of the notion of dysfunction consider disease to be dysfunction requiring. More specifically, dysfunction-requiring theories of disease claim that for an individual to be diseased certain biological facts about it must be the case. Disease is not wholly a matter of evaluative attitudes. In this paper, I consider the dysfunction-requiring component of Wakefield’s hybrid account of disease in light of the artifactual organisms envisioned by current research in synthetic biology. In particular, I argue that the possibility of artifactual organisms and the case of oncomice and other bred or genetically modified strains of organism constitute a significant objection to Wakefield’s etiological account of the dysfunction requirement. I then develop a new alternative understanding of the dysfunction requirement that builds on the organizational theory of function. I conclude that my suggestion is superior to Wakefield’s theory because it (a) can accommodate both artifactual and naturally evolved organisms, (b) avoids the possibility of there being a conflict between what an organismic part is supposed to do and the health of the organism, and (c) provides a nonarbitrary and practical way of determining whether dysfunction occurs
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DOI 10.1093/jmp/jhu025
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References found in this work BETA

An Organizational Account of Biological Functions.Matteo Mossio, Cristian Saborido & Alvaro Moreno - 2009 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 60 (4):813-841.
Functional Analysis and Proper Functions.Paul E. Griffiths - 1993 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (3):409-422.

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Citations of this work BETA

Organism and Artifact: Proper Functions in Paley Organisms.Sune Holm - 2013 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 44 (4b):706-713.
A Plea for the Plurality of Function.Tony Cheng - 2016 - Review of Contemporary Philosophy 15:70-81.

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