Can aging research generate a theory of health?

History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (2):1-26 (2021)
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While aging research and policy aim to promote ‘health’ at all ages, there remains no convincing explanation of what this ‘health’ is. In this paper, I investigate whether we can find, implicit within the sciences of aging, a way to know what health is and how to measure it, i.e. a theory of health. To answer this, I start from scientific descriptions of aging and its modulators and then try to develop some generalizations about ‘health’ implicit within this research. After discussing some of the core aspects of aging and the ways in which certain models describe spatial and temporal features specific to both aging and healthy phenotypes, I then extract, explicate, and evaluate one potential construct of health in these models. This suggests a theory of health based on the landscape of optimized phenotypic trajectories. I conclude by considering why it matters for more candidate theories to be proposed and evaluated by philosophers and scientists alike.



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Jonathan Sholl
Université de Bordeaux

Citations of this work

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References found in this work

Philosophy Within its Proper Bounds.Edouard Machery - 2017 - Oxford, United Kingdom: Oxford University Press.
Doing without concepts.Edouard Machery - 2009 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Biological normativity: a new hope for naturalism?Walter Veit - 2021 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 24 (2):291-301.
Scientific Representation: Paradoxes of Perspective.Bas C. Van Fraassen - 2008 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.
Health as a theoretical concept.Christopher Boorse - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (4):542-573.

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