Biological normativity: a new hope for naturalism?

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 24 (2):291-301 (2021)
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Since Boorse [Philos Sci 44:542–573, 1977] published his paper “Health as a theoretical concept” one of the most lively debates within philosophy of medicine has been on the question of whether health and disease are in some sense ‘objective’ and ‘value-free’ or ‘subjective’ and ‘value-laden’. Due to the apparent ‘failure’ of pure naturalist, constructivist, or normativist accounts, much in the recent literature has appealed to more conciliatory approaches or so-called ‘hybrid accounts’ of health and disease. A recent paper by Matthewson and Griffiths [J Med Philos 42:447–466, 2017], however, may bear the seeds for the revival of purely naturalist approach to health and disease. In this paper, I defend their idea of Biological Normativity against recent criticism by Schwartz [J Med Philos Forum Bioethics Philos Med 42:485–502, 2017] and hope to help it flower into a revival of naturalist approaches in the philosophy of medicine.

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Walter Veit
University of Bristol


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