A Dispositional Theory of Health

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (4):927-952 (2019)
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A satisfactory account of the nature of health is important for a wide range of theoretical and practical reasons. No theory offered in the literature thus far has been able to meet all the desiderata for an adequate theory of health. This article introduces a new theory of health, according to which health is best defined in terms of dispositions at the level of the organism as a whole. After outlining the main features of the account and providing formal definitions of ‘health’, ‘healthy’, and ‘healthier than’, I present the main strengths of the proposed account. I argue that the proposed dispositional theory accounts for all paradigm cases of health and pathology, that it circumvents a number of problems faced by rival theories, and that it makes for a naturalistic theory of health with a rigorous metaphysical underpinning. 1Introduction 2The Dispositional Account 3Further Specification of the Dispositional Account 3.1Reference classes 3.2Comparison classes 3.3Which dispositions? 4Advantages of the Dispositional view 5Three Objections and Replies 5.1Objection 1: Counter-examples 5.2Objection 2: Issues with holism 5.3Objection 3: Expediting medicalization 6Final Remarks



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Author's Profile

Sander Werkhoven
Utrecht University

Citations of this work

Can aging research generate a theory of health?Jonathan Sholl - 2021 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (2):1-26.
Health and Reference Classes.Sander Werkhoven - 2020 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 45 (2):145-158.
Health as temporally extended: theoretical foundations and implications.Ari Schick - 2022 - History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 44 (3):1-22.
Infinity, Technology, Degeneracy: A Note on Werkhoven’s Dispositional Theory of Health.Shane N. Glackin - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science:axz033.

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From an ontological point of view.John Heil - 2003 - New York: Oxford University Press.
A World of States of Affairs.D. Armstrong - 1993 - Philosophical Perspectives 7:429-440.

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