, Volume 20, Issue 2, pp 105-123

The Limits of Medical Practice

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Abstract

Should medicine be defined as the enterprise in charge of the health problems of society? If so, then any problem (individual, public, social or political) that can be reformulated as a “health problem” could serve as a goal of medicine. If, on the other hand, medicine ⁀ or medicine proper ⁀ is defined in terms of some limited goal and limited means, then some medical professionals would find themselves working in other fields than medicine. It could be of some importance to the patient to know whether the medical professional he meets is engaged in medical practice (aiming at the patient's health), research, public health or some other project which involves medical competence. Obviously, some of these enterprises may have conflicting goals. This paper will analyse various candidates for being a model of medicine, discuss some of the consequences, and argue for a limited view of medical practice.