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What are chronic diseases?


DOI: 10.1007/s11229-017-1368-1

Cite this article as:
Fuller, J. Synthese (2017). doi:10.1007/s11229-017-1368-1


What kind of a thing are chronic diseases? Are they objects, bundles of signs and symptoms, properties, processes, or fictions? Rather than using concept analysis—the standard approach to disease in the philosophy of medicine—to answer this metaphysical question, I use a bottom-up, inductive approach. I argue that chronic diseases are bodily states or properties—often dispositional, but sometimes categorical. I also investigate the nature of related pathological entities: pathogenesis, etiology, and signs and symptoms. Finally, I defend my view against alternate accounts of the nature of disease.


Chronic disease Metaphysics Ontology Dispositions Concept analysis Experimental philosophy Philosophy of medicine 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Wilson CentreUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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