Thin or Thick, Real or Ideal: How Thinking Through Fatness Can Help Us See the Dangers of Idealized Conceptions of Patients, Providers, Health, and Disease

In Elizabeth Victor & Laura K. Guidry-Grimes (eds.), Applying Nonideal Theory to Bioethics: Living and Dying in a Nonideal World. Springer. pp. 255-283 (2021)
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The fundamental standard of health care is health. Theories of health affect how we conceive of good health, ill health, Good patients, and Good providers. They also profoundly affect how we go about attempting to solve health problems once we’ve identified them. In this chapter, I argue that the way health care providers, bioethicists, and public health experts approach health relies on ideal theory despite the heavy knowledge that this world will never be ideal. We need a conception of health that accounts for this. I outline the weakness of ideal theory in general and with respect to theories of health, and argue in favor of a nonideal approach to health that is rooted in intersubjectivity, empiricism, inclusivity, contextual specificity, and reflexivity which are not entrusted to any one set of knowers. Throughout, I use the example of how we approach fatness, and medicalize obesity, to illustrate where we’ve gone wrong and to chart a path toward how we can go right.



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Alison Reiheld
Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

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The Gut Microbiome and the Imperative of Normalcy.Jane Dryden - 2023 - International Journal of Feminist Approaches to Bioethics 16 (1):131-162.

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