Dissertation, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2011)

This is an investigation of the modern concept of disease and an explication of the concept consistent with scientific and medical usage. The core notion involved in the modern concept of disease (taken broadly as pathology) is biological abnormality in form or function, for a circumscribed biological system, contrasted against a theoretical sense of normal form or function. Chapter 2 presents an overview of science, its products and how these are produced. This sketch is limited and intended only to clarify my own view of science in as far as this is important for the main thesis. Chapter 3 discusses the concepts of normality and abnormality, particularly as it is used in biomedical science. I argue that science offers a theoretical sense of abnormality importantly different from statistical or conventional senses of abnormality. Chapter 4 begins with an examination of the normativist /naturalist debate on the concept of disease. I then offer my explication of disease and the criteria necessary for a disease claim to be legitimate. Chapter 4 closes with an extended discussion of interesting and controversial examples of disease claims aimed at clarifying and challenging my own position
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