Renewing Medicine’s basic concepts: on ambiguity

Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 13 (1):8 (2018)
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In this paper, I argue that the concept of normality in medical research and clinical practice is inextricable from the concept of ambiguity. I make this argument in the context of Edmund Pellegrino's call for a renewed reflection on medicine’s basic concepts and by drawing on work in critical disability studies concerning Deafness and body integrity identity disorder. If medical practitioners and philosophers of medicine wish to improve their understanding of the meaning of medicine as well as its concrete practice, I contend that they should take seriously the import and centrality of ambiguity for biomedicine.

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Joel Michael Reynolds
Georgetown University


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