Conceptual Engineering of Medical Concepts

In Manuel Gustavo Isaac, Kevin Scharp & Steffen Koch (eds.), New Perspectives on Conceptual Engineering. Synthese Library (forthcoming)
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Abstract

There is a lot of conceptual engineering going on in medical research. I substantiate this claim with two examples, the medical debate about cancer classification and about obesity as a disease I also argue that the proper target of conceptual engineering in medical research are experts’ conceptions. These are explicitly written down in documents and guidelines, and they bear on research and policies. In the second part of the chapter, I propose an externalist framework in which conceptions have both the explanatory power of psychological concepts and that of semantic concepts. It is likely, however, that human activities and practices distinct from medical research, and regulated by different practices and epistemic rules, call for different targets for conceptual engineering. I conclude with indicating an open agenda of problems for philosophers of medicine interested in conceptual engineering.

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Elisabetta Lalumera
University of Bologna

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