Original Paper

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 27, Issue 3, pp 227-243

First online:

Emerging Medical Technologies and Emerging Conceptions of Health

  • William E. StempseyAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, College of the Holy Cross Email author 

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Using ideas gleaned from the philosophy of technology of Martin Heidegger and Hans Jonas and the philosophy of health of Georges Canguilhem, I argue that one of the characteristics of emerging medical technologies is that these technologies lead to new conceptions of health. When technologies enable the body to respond to more and more challenges of disease, we thus establish new norms of health. Given the continued development of successful technologies, we come to expect more and more that our bodies should be able to respond to ever-new challenges of environment and disease by establishing ever-new norms of health. Technologies may aim at the prevention and treatment of disease, but they also bring about modifications of what we consider normal for the human being. Thus, new norms of health arise from technological innovation.


Canguilhem health Heidegger Jonas medical technology technology