Recognizing Values: A Descriptive-Causal Method for Medical/Scientific Discourses

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 22 (6):541-565 (1997)
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While much discussion in bioethics, philosophy of science, and philosophy of medicine concerns the proper handling and uses of value considerations, there has been little discussion about how to identify or recognize values in medical/scientific discourse. This article presents a heuristic method for identifying values in such discourses. Values are defined as descriptions or conditions that guide human action and are praise- or blameworthy. Values manifest themselves in discourses in one or more of three dimensions: linguistic, causal, and descriptive; each with distinctive “subtypes”. By recognizing the various ways that values manifest in discourses, a “values scholar” can ask relevant questions of the discourse and thereby come to recognize potential evaluative meanings in the discourse. Numerous examples are provided from the author's own research program. Strengths, limitations, and paths to developing the model are briefly discussed



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