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Care and Cure

An Introduction to Philosophy of Medicine

The philosophy of medicine has become a vibrant and complex intellectual landscape, and Care and Cure is the first extended attempt to map it. In pursuing the interdependent aims of caring and curing, medicine relies on concepts, theories, inferences, and policies that are often complicated and controversial. Bringing much-needed clarity to the interplay of these diverse problems, Jacob Stegenga describes the core philosophical controversies underlying medicine in this unrivaled introduction to the field.

The fourteen chapters in Care and Cure present and discuss conceptual, metaphysical, epistemological, and political questions that arise in medicine, buttressed with lively illustrative examples ranging from debates over the true nature of disease to the effectiveness of medical interventions and homeopathy. Poised to be the standard sourcebook for anyone seeking a comprehensive overview of the canonical concepts, current state, and cutting edge of this vital field, this concise introduction will be an indispensable resource for students and scholars of medicine and philosophy.


“This is an exceptionally clear, accessible, and organized introduction to key concepts and central debates in the philosophy of medicine. There is as yet no single-author, comprehensive introduction to this new field. Stegenga's excellent book fills this lacuna.”

Anya Plutynski, Department of Philosophy, Washington University in St. Louis, author of "Explaining Cancer: Finding Order in Disorder"

Care and Cure cogently argues that while scholarship on ethics and the practice of medicine are in plenitude, there is a dearth of scholarship grappling with a host of other philosophical questions and issues concerning medicine as a discipline. A balanced overview.”

Mark H. Waymack, Department of Philosophy, Loyola University Chicago

“As an introductory text in the philosophy of medicine, Care and Cure offers a comprehensive overview of the field which is accessible to beginners in philosophy. Notably for a philosophical book on medicine, it is not a work in medical ethics, but in applied philosophy of science. Well-written and well-structured, Stegenga’s book is a very welcome addition to the philosophy of medicine literature.”

Hane Maung, Department of Philosophy, School of Social Sciences, University of Manchester

Table of Contents

Note to Teachers


Part I. Concepts

Chapter 1. Health
1.1 Summary
1.2 Neutralism and Naturalism
1.3 Well-Being and Normativism
1.4 Objectivism and Subjectivism
Further Reading and Discussion Questions

Chapter 2. Disease
2.1 Summary
2.2 Naturalism
2.3 Normativism
2.4 Hybridism
2.5 Eliminativism
2.6 Phenomenology
Further Reading and Discussion Questions

Chapter 3. Death
3.1 Summary
3.2 Defining Death
3.3 The Badness of Death
3.4 Ethics of Killing
Further Reading and Discussion Questions

Part II. Models and Kinds

Chapter 4. Causation and Kinds
4.1 Summary
4.2 Three Theories of Causation
4.3 Diseases: Monocausal or Multifactorial?
4.4 Nosology
4.5 Precision Medicine
Further Reading and Discussion Questions

Chapter 5. Holism and Reductionism
5.1 Summary
5.2 Disease
5.3 Medical Interventions
5.4 Patient-Physician Relationship
Further Reading and Discussion Questions

Chapter 6. Controversial Diseases
6.1 Summary
6.2 Medicalization
6.3 Psychiatric Diseases
6.4 Culture-Bound Syndromes
6.5 Addiction
Further Reading and Discussion Questions

Part III. Evidence and Inference

Chapter 7. Evidence in Medicine
7.1 Summary
7.2 Phases of Medical Research
7.3 Bias
7.4 Animal Models
7.5 Randomization
7.6 Meta-analysis
7.7 Mechanisms
Further Reading and Discussion Questions

Chapter 8. Objectivity and the Social Structure of Science
8.1 Summary
8.2 Industry Funding and Publication Bias
8.3 Demarcation
8.4 Value-Laden Science
8.5 Social Epistemology

Chapter 9. Inference
9.1 Summary
9.2 Causal Inference
9.3 Extrapolation
9.4 Measuring Effectiveness
9.5 Theories of Statistical Inference
9.6 Testing Precision Medicine
Further Reading and Discussion Questions

Chapter 10. Effectiveness, Skepticism, and Alternatives
10.1 Summary
10.2 Defining Effectiveness
10.3 Medical Nihilism
10.4 Alternative Medicine
10.5 Placebo
Further Reading and Discussion Questions

Chapter 11. Diagnosis and Screening
11.1 Summary
11.2 Diagnosis
11.3 Logic of Diagnostic Tests
11.4 Screening
Further Reading and Discussion Questions

Part IV. Values and Policy

Chapter 12. Psychiatry: Care or Control?
12.1 Summary
12.2 Psychiatric Nosology
12.3 Anti-psychiatry
12.4 Delusions and Exclusions
Further Reading and Discussion Questions

Chapter 13. Policy
13.1 Summary
13.2 Research Priorities
13.3 Intellectual Property
13.4 Standards for Regulation
Further Reading and Discussion Questions

Chapter 14. Public Health
14.1 Summary
14.2 Social Epidemiology
14.3 Preventive Medicine
14.4 Health Inequalities
Further Reading and Discussion Question



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