Complexity of the Concept of Disease As Shown through Rival Theoretical Frameworks

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics: Philosophy of Medical Research and Practice 22 (3):211-236 (2001)
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Abstract

The concept of disease has been the subject of a vast, vivid and versatile debate. Categories, such as "realist", "nominalist", "ontologist", "physiologist", "normativist" and "descriptivist", have been applied to classify disease concepts. These categories refer to underlying theoretical frameworks of the debate. The objective of this review is to analyze these frameworks. It is argued that the categories applied in the debate refer to profound philosophical issues, and that the complexity of the debate reflects the complexity of the concept itself: disease is a complex concept, and does not easily lend itself to definition.

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