Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics

, Volume 39, Issue 4, pp 343–346 | Cite as

Benjamin Smart: Concepts and causes in the philosophy of disease

Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, 2016, x + 100 pp, $67.50, ISBN: 978-1-137-55291-4
  • Jeremy R. SimonEmail author

Concepts and Causes in the Philosophy of Disease is one of the first titles in philosophy, and certainly the first title in philosophy of medicine, to be published in the Palgrave Pivot series. As this is not a typical book, a few words on Palgrave Pivot are in order before discussing the book itself.

Philosophy has a problem—which I imagine other academic disciplines outside the sciences share—in that, though worthwhile work may be of any length, it can be published only if it is short or long. Up to 15,000 words or so may appear in a journal, and over 75,000‒100,000 words is suitable for a book. In between, no matter how well the length fits the project, authors tend to face a Procrustean dilemma. Either they can cut the work down to size, potentially compromising the argument or leaving out interesting and worthwhile content, or they can expand it, padding their piece with what amounts to fluff. Or, of course, they can ditch the project altogether, which serves no one.

Fiction has...


  1. 1.
    Cooper, Rachel. 2002. Disease. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 33: 263–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Schwartz, Peter H. 2007. Defining dysfunction: Natural selection, design, and drawing a line. Philosophy of Science 74: 364–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Wakefield, Jerome C. 1992. The concept of mental disorder: On the boundary between biological facts and social values. American Psychologist 47: 373–388.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Boorse, Christopher. 1977. Health as a theoretical concept. Philosophy of Science 44: 542–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Guerrero, J. David. 2010. On a naturalist theory of health: A critique. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Science 41: 272–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Emergency MedicineColumbia UniversityNew YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations