Wherein is the concept of disease normative? From weak normativity to value-conscious naturalism

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 25 (1):1-14 (2021)
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In this paper we focus on some new normativist positions and compare them with traditional ones. In so doing, we claim that if normative judgments are involved in determining whether a condition is a disease only in the sense identified by new normativisms, then disease is normative only in a weak sense, which must be distinguished from the strong sense advocated by traditional normativisms. Specifically, we argue that weak and strong normativity are different to the point that one ‘normativist’ label ceases to be appropriate for the whole range of positions. If values and norms are not explicit components of the concept of disease, but only intervene in other explanatory roles, then the concept of disease is no more value-laden than many other scientific concepts, or even any other scientific concept. We call the newly identified position “value-conscious naturalism” about disease, and point to some of its theoretical and practical advantages.

Author Profiles

Elisabetta Lalumera
University of Bologna
M. Cristina Amoretti
Università degli Studi di Genova


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