On Disease: Theories of Disease and the Ascription of Disease: Comments on “The Concepts of Health and Disease”

  • Loretta Kopelman
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 1)


Dr. Engelhardt has argued that the concept of disease is ambiguous because it has both an explanatory and an evaluative role.1 I would like to examine this. To do so I will begin by distinguishing between theories of disease on the one hand and the ascription of disease on the other.


Scientific Theory Medical Theory Sickle Cell Trait Moral Concept Green Spot 
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  1. 2.
    Lester King, “What is Disease?,” Philosophy of Science 21 (July 1954), 194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 4.
    M. M. Wintrobe, Clinical Hematology,6th ed. (Philadelphia: Lea and Febig, 1967), pp. 690 and 705.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    See, for example, the discussion in Psychopathology Today,ed. by William S. Sahakian (Itasca, Illinois: F. E. Peacock, 1970). Of particular interest in this regard are articles by Thomas Szasz, “Repudiation of the Medical Model,” pp. 47–53Google Scholar
  4. Mental Health and Mental Illness: Some Problems of Definition and Concept Formation,“ Philosophy of Science 39 (September 1972), 341–365.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Marie Jahoda, Current Concepts of Positive Mental Health (New York/London: Basic Books, 1958), chap. II.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 7.
    S. Krugman and R. Ward, Infectious Diseases of Children and Adults, 5th ed. ( St. Louis: C. V. Mosby Co., 1973 ), p. 277.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Owsei Temkin, The Falling Sickness,2nd ed., rev. (Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins Press, 1971), p. 4, pp. 153–154.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    René and Jean Dubos, “Consumption and the Romantic Age,” in The White Plague (Boston: Little, Brown and Co., 1952), chap. 5.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Loretta Kopelman
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Rochester School of MedicineRochesterUSA

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