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By Benjamin Smart (auth.)

This e-book examines a couple of vital debates within the philosophy of drugs, together with 'what is disease?', and the jobs and viability of ideas of causation, in medical medication and epidemiology.

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Concepts and Causes in the Philosophy of Disease

This booklet examines a few vital debates within the philosophy of drugs, together with 'what is sickness? ', and the jobs and viability of techniques of causation, in medical drugs and epidemiology.

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First, Boorse’s reference classes are not species simpliciter, but subclasses of species (determined by age groups and sex). This prevents prepubescent children and postmenopausal women from being diseased due to infertility; men’s testes, liver, and adrenal glands being diseased for creating subnormal (for the species) quantities of oestrogen (despite creating the mean level of oestrogen for their sex), and many hundreds of similar examples. Second, one possible interpretation of the second clause is: ‘A normal function of a part or process within members of the reference class is a statistically typical contribution by it to the survival of the individual organism, and to the ability of the organism to have offspring,’ since with respect to the former Boorse refers specifically to the organs and processes of the individual organism, and there is little indication that he moves from speaking of individual organisms to, say, their genes (or indeed to anything else).

What is naturalism about disease? Before outlining the BST, it is worth emphasising Boorse’s naturalist target. This is especially important, since many of the objections to his thesis arise from confusion in this regard. For example, Murphy writes: The naturalist conception of disease (perhaps most clearly stated in Boorse 1975, 1997) is that the human body comprises organ systems that have natural functions from which they can depart in many ways. Some of these departures from normal functioning are harmless or beneficial, but others are not.

Introduction The target of Chapter 1 was a conceptual analysis of disease for the clinician. Here I analyse the concept of disease from a slightly different perspective. ’1 Although the clinician’s concept of disease is clearly inherently value-laden, this is not true of pathological conditions. The focus of this chapter is by far the most frequently cited ‘naturalist’ conception of disease/pathological condition: that proposed and developed by Boorse (1975; 1976; 1977; 1997; 2014). I ultimately argue that the biostatistical theory (BST), as it stands, has not been rescued from Guerrero’s (2010) Cambridge change objection.

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