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A Wittgensteinian View of Naturalist Against Non-Naturalist Conceptions of Health

Espino, Lawrence Ray (2022) A Wittgensteinian View of Naturalist Against Non-Naturalist Conceptions of Health. [Preprint]

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Abstract

In order to provide an answer to the question, “What is health?” I have classified the various answers into two general categories. Each side tries to argue for a particular way in which the term ‘health’ ought to be used. On the one hand, philosophers such as Christopher Boorse and Daniel Hausman argue that the ‘health’ concept is best understood as a value-free term belonging to the natural sciences. Under the naturalist conception, the notion of ‘health’ is closely associated with the notions of ‘disease’ or ‘pathology’, where ‘health’ is referring to an objective feature of the world. For naturalists, an organism (or one of its systems) is considered to be healthy when there is an absence of a pathological condition.
On the other hand, philosophers such as Nordenfelt and Svenaeus argue that the ‘health’ concept is best understood as a value-laden term affected by social and economic pressures. Unlike the naturalists, non-naturalists believe that a particular usage of the term ‘health’ is infused with the values of the speaker. The term ‘health’ is used to refer to a judgement or apprehension that a speaker may have to a particular human being. To say that a condition is ‘healthy’ or ‘unhealthy’ is to partially mean that the condition is ‘good’ or ‘bad’ in an extra-biological sense.
I argue that, as a question between naturalism and non-naturalism, the question of “What is health?” can be regarded as a pseudo-problem stemming from a superficial similarity between technical and non-technical usages of the ‘health’ term. If philosophers and medical professionals are to have meaningful conversations using the term ‘health’, then they must move past theoretical discussions of whether a naturalist or non-naturalist conception of health is ‘more appropriate’. Instead, philosophers of medicine and medical professionals must become conscientious of which sense of health is used in their conversations. Once they become aware and appreciate the different uses of the term ‘health’, the tension between choosing what one ought to mean by the term ‘health’ disappears.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Espino, Lawrence Raylawrence.ray.espino@gmail.com0000-0002-9850-6709
Keywords: Wittgenstein, Language, Doctor-Patient Communication
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Medicine > Health and Disease
Specific Sciences > Psychology
Depositing User: Mr. Lawrence Ray Espino
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2022 02:34
Last Modified: 22 Oct 2022 02:34
Item ID: 21297
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Medicine > Health and Disease
Specific Sciences > Psychology
Date: 2022
URI: https://philsci-archive-dev.library.pitt.edu/id/eprint/21297

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