On the classification of diseases

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 35 (4):251-269 (2014)

Authors
Benjamin Smart
University of Johannesburg
Abstract
Identifying the necessary and sufficient conditions for individuating and classifying diseases is a matter of great importance in the fields of law, ethics, epidemiology, and of course, medicine. In this paper, I first propose a means of achieving this goal, ensuring that no two distinct disease-types could correctly be ascribed to the same disease-token. I then posit a metaphysical ontology of diseases—that is, I give an account of what a disease is. This is essential to providing the most effective means of interfering with disease processes. Following existing work in the philosophy of medicine and epidemiology (primarily Christopher Boorse; Caroline Whitbeck; Alexander Broadbent), philosophy of biology (Joseph LaPorte; D.L. Hull), conditional analyses of causation (J.L. Mackie; David Lewis), and recent literature on dispositional essentialism (Stephen Mumford and Rani Anjum; Alexander Bird), I endorse a dispositional conception of disease. Following discussion of various conceptions of disease-identity, their relations to the clinical and pathological effects of the diseases in question, and how diseases are treated, I conclude (i) that diseases should be individuated by their causes, and (ii) that diseases are causal processes best seen as simultaneously acting sequences of mutually manifesting dispositions
Keywords Philosophy of medicine  Disease  Causation  Dispositions
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DOI 10.1007/s11017-014-9301-9
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References found in this work BETA

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How to Speak of the Colors.Mark Johnston - 1992 - Philosophical Studies 68 (3):221-263.
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Citations of this work BETA

Universal Etiology, Multifactorial Diseases and the Constitutive Model of Disease Classification.Jonathan Fuller - 2018 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 67:8-15.

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