Universal Etiology, Multifactorial Diseases and the Constitutive Model of Disease Classification

Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 67:8-15 (2018)
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Abstract

In this article, I will reconstruct the monocausal model and argue that modern 'multifactorial diseases' are not monocausal by definition. 'Multifactorial diseases' are instead defined according to a constitutive disease model. On closer analysis, infectious diseases are also defined using the constitutive model rather than the monocausal model. As a result, our classification models alone cannot explain why infectious diseases have a universal etiology while chronic and noncommunicable diseases lack one. The explanation is instead provided by the nineteenth-century germ theorists.

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