Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 40 (1):1-19 (2019)
AbstractJerome Wakefield has argued that a disorder is a harmful dysfunction. This paper develops how Wakefield should construe harmful in his harmful dysfunction analysis. Recently, Neil Feit has argued that classic puzzles involved in analyzing harm render Wakefield’s HDA better off without harm as a necessary condition. Whether or not one conceives of harm as comparative or non-comparative, the concern is that the HDA forces people to classify as mere dysfunction what they know to be a disorder. For instance, one can conceive of cases where simultaneous disorders prevent each other from being, in any traditional sense, actually harmful; in such cases, according to the HDA, neither would be a disorder. I argue that the sense of harm that Wakefield should employ in the HDA is dispositional, similar to the sense of harm used when describing a vile of poison: “Be careful! That’s poison. It’s harmful.” I call this harm in the damage sense. Using this sense of harm enables the HDA to avoid Feit’s arguments, and thus it should be preferred to other senses when analyzing harmful dysfunction.
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References found in this work
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Potentiality: From Dispositions to Modality.Barbara Vetter - 2015 - Oxford, England and New York, NY, USA: Oxford University Press.
Citations of this work
Medical disorder, harm, and damage.Neil Feit - 2020 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 41 (1):39-52.
Wakefield’s harmful dysfunction analysis of disorder and the problem of defining harm to nonsentient organisms.Antoine C. Dussault - 2021 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 42 (5):211-231.
Contextual Exceptionalism After Death: An Information Ethics Approach to Post-Mortem Privacy in Health Data Research.Marieke A. R. Bak & Dick L. Willems - 2022 - Science and Engineering Ethics 28 (4):1-20.
Towards a Dispositionalist (and Unifying) Account of Addiction.Robert M. Kelly - forthcoming - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics.
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