Summary

Concepts of health and disease shape descriptions of medical reality, convey explanations, advance value judgments, and structure social reality. They influence not only the scope of medicine, but healthcare policy as well. Because they may involve not only moral values but values associated with physical and mental excellence, they raise questions pertinent to both bioethics and the philosophy of medicine. These special concerns regarding medical explanation may sufficiently define a distinctive problem area so as to establish the philosophy of medicine as a field in its own right, despite arguments to the contrary. In any event, the concepts of health and disease, as well as their application, will continue to be the subject of debate in societies that are morally and culturally pluralistic.

H. TRISTRAM ENGELHARDT, JR.

KEVIN WM. WILDES (1 995) REVISED BY AUTHORS

SEE ALSO: Anthropology and Bioethics; Bioethics, African-American Perspectives; Eugenics: Historical Aspects; Feminism; Lifestyles and Public Health; Medicine, Anthropology of; Medicine, Philosophy of; Medicine, Sociology of; Mental Illness; Women, Historical and Cross-Cultural Perspectives; and other Health and Disease subentries

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