Analyse & Kritik

Journal of Philosophy and Social Theory


"Paul Thompson"

Titel: Objectivity of the Concepts of Health and Disease
Autor: Paul Thompson
Seite: 94-101

Abstract: It is now widely accepted that the concepts of "health" and "disease" in psychiatric and psychological contexts are value laden. In this article I argue that even in the realm of physical illness and disease (appendicitis, phenylketonuria, etc.), the concepts of "health", "illness" and "disease" are value laden. I explore the four most common bases used to objectively ground the key concept "normal functioning", namely, genetic structure, evolutionary fitness, non-premature death and absence of pain. I argue that they all fail to adequately provide an objective grounding for the concept "normal functioning" (health) and, hence, for "abnormal functioning" (illness, disease). The reason an objective grounding cannot be given is that physical "health", "illness" and "disease" rest on widely shared values in addition to the condition of the organism.

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