Four Basic Concepts of Medical Science

PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1978:210 - 222 (1978)
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Abstract

It is claimed that medicine is concerned with the prevention and treatment of certain types of psychophysiological processes and states which frequently compromise health, namely with disease, injuries, and (occasionally) impairments, rather than with health. It is argued that the normative component in the concepts, disease, injury and impairment, consists in each being a type of process or state which people wish to be able to prevent or effectively treat, because it interferes with the capacity to do something that people commonly want to be able to do, without also being necessary for such a capacity. One advantage of viewing the normative component as consisting in the judgment that it is desirable to collectively possess the means to control certain types of processes and states, is that it renders non-paradoxical the fact that it may not be in anyone's interest to prevent or treat a given case of disease, injury, or impairment.

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