SOPhiA 2019

Salzburgiense Concilium Omnibus Philosophis Analyticis

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Programme - Talk

Normativity in the Concept of Disease
(Philosophy of Science, English)

In recent debates within philosophy of medicine there is an ongoing vibrant controversy on the concept of disease and how to classify statements such as 'x is a disease' or 'S is ill'. Normativists emphasize that to claim a condition to be a disease is more than to state a physiological malfunction, but rather a harmful state that needs to be overcome. Accordingly proponents of this position regard normative evaluations of conditions as a constitutive part of the concept of disease and its attribution. Proponents of a naturalist approach argue that statements concerning whether something qualifies as disease or pathological condition, in spite of qualifying as pathological, can be reduced to mere descriptions of a physiological state. These descriptions are independent of individual or cultural judgements, i.e. of a purely objective manner.

In my talk I want to ask whether normativism or naturalism provide an adequate conceptual framework for the interpretation of statements within medical research and clinical diagnostics. Therefore I will present exemplary statements (e.g. definitions of disease entities, catalogues of criteria) and analyze which parts contain descriptive, normative or neutralizing elements. It will be shown that neither of the two provides a viable approach. In this context I will discuss hybridism concepts of disease as an alternative both to normativism and naturalism, especially in the context of diagnosis and possibly following treatment demands .

Hucklenbroich P., 2016: Die Normativität des Krankheitsbegriffs: zur Genese und Geltung von Kriterien der Krankhaftigkeit. In: Analyse & Kritik. Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory 38 (2): 459-496.

Morscher E., 2016: The Descriptive-Normative Dichotomy and the So Called Naturalistic Fallacy. In: Analyse & Kritik. Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory 38 (2): 317-338.

Stegenga J., 2018: Care and Cure: An Introduction to Philosophy of Medicine. Chicago/ London: The University of Chicago Press.

Chair: Alexander Belak
Time: 19:00-19:30, 18 September 2019 (Wednesday)
Location: SR 1.005

Julia Mirkin 
(Heinrich-Heine-University Düsseldorf, Germany)

Julia Mirkin is a masters student at the Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf. She finished her B.A. 2018 with a major in Philosophy and a minor in Political Science. Her bachelor thesis was about "Value Neutrality, Social Responsibility and the Production of Disease". She works as a student assistant and has conducted several tutorials on logic, philosophy of science and concepts of moral.


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