Effectiveness of medical interventions

Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 54:34-44 (2015)
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To be effective, a medical intervention must improve one's health by targeting a disease. The concept of disease, though, is controversial. Among the leading accounts of disease-naturalism, normativism, hybridism, and eliminativism-I defend a version of hybridism. A hybrid account of disease holds that for a state to be a disease that state must both (i) have a constitutive causal basis and (ii) cause harm. The dual requirement of hybridism entails that a medical intervention, to be deemed effective, must target either the constitutive causal basis of a disease or the harms caused by the disease (or ideally both). This provides a theoretical underpinning to the two principle aims of medical treatment: care and cure.

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Jacob Stegenga
Cambridge University


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