Journal of Medical Ethics 27 (2):80-85 (2001)

This “open letter” to Christopher Boorse is a response to his influential naturalist analysis of disease from the perspective of linguistic-analytic value theory. The key linguistic-analytic point against Boorse is that, although defining disease value free, he continue to use the term with clear evaluative connotations. A descriptivist analysis of disease would allow value-free definition consistently with value-laden use: but descriptivism fails when applied to mental disorder because it depends on shared values whereas the values relevant to mental disorders are highly diverse. A part-function analysis, similarly, although initially persuasive for physical disorders, fails with the psychotic mental disorders because these, characteristically, involve disturbances of the rationality of the person as a whole. The difficulties encountered in applying naturalism to mental disorders point, linguistic-analytically, to the possibility that there is, after all, an evaluative element of meaning, deeply hidden but still logically operative, in the concept of disease
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DOI 10.1136/jme.27.2.80
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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.
On the Distinction Between Disease and Illness.Christopher Boorse - 1975 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 5 (1):49-68.
A Plea for Excuses.John Austin - 1957 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 57:1--30.
Wright on Functions.Christopher Boorse - 1976 - Philosophical Review 85 (1):70-86.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Concept of Health: Beyond Normativism and Naturalism.Richard P. Hamilton - 2010 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 16 (2):323-329.
Health as a Clinic-Epidemiological Concept.Marco Antonio Azevedo - 2015 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 21 (3):365-373.
Why Mental Disorders Are Just Mental Dysfunctions (and Nothing More): Some Darwinian Arguments.Andreas De Block - 2008 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 39 (3):338-346.

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On Defining 'Disease'.W. Miller Brown - 1985 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 10 (4):311-328.


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