On Drugs

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 48 (6):551-564 (2023)
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Abstract

Despite their centrality to medicine, drugs are not easily defined. We introduce two desiderata for a basic definition of medical drugs. It should: (a) capture everything considered to be a drug in medical contexts and (b) rule out anything that is not considered to be a drug. After canvassing a range of options, we find that no single definition of drugs can satisfy both desiderata. We conclude with three responses to our exploration of the drug concept: maintain a monistic concept, or choose one of two pluralistic outcomes. Notably, the distinction between drugs and other substances is placed under pressure by the most plausible of the options available.

Author's Profile

Sam Baron
University of Melbourne

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