Why bioethics needs the philosophy of medicine: Some implications of reflection on concepts of health and disease

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 18 (1-2):145-163 (1997)
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Germund Hesslow has argued that concepts of health and disease serve no important scientific, clinical, or ethical function. However, this conclusion depends upon the particular concept of disease he espouses; namely, on Boorse's functional notion. The fact/value split embodied in the functional notion of disease leads to a sharp split between the science of medicine and bioethics, making the philosophy of medicine irrelevant for both. By placing this disease concept in the broader context of medical history, I shall show that it does capture an essential part of modern medical ideology. However, it is also a self-contradictory notion. By making explicit the value desiderata of medical nosologies, a reconfiguration of the relation between medicine, bioethics, and the philosophy of medicine is initiated. This, in turn, will involve a recovery of the caring dimensions of medicine, and thus a more humane practice.



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George Khushf
University of South Carolina

References found in this work

Just Health Care.Norman Daniels - 1985 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
The nature of disease.Lawrie Reznek - 1987 - New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul.
Medicine and the Reign of Technology.Stanley Joel Reiser - 1980 - Journal of the History of Biology 13 (1):160-161.
Ideology and etiology.H. Tristram Engelhardt Jr - 1976 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 1 (3):256-268.

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