Concepts of Function and Mechanism in Medicine and Medical Science

  • Stephen Toulmin
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 1)


If we are to make the transition from the philosophy of science to a full-fledged philosophy of medicine, our first task will be to find a way of distinguishing between medicine and science; and of doing so in completely general terms. How is this to be done? And, once it is done, how are we then to describe the relations between the two enterprises, again in completely general terms? Is a knowledge of medicine something different in kind from a knowledge of the sciences whose results find application in medical practice? Or does the difference between the two enterprises, such as it is, lie in the nature of the applications to which that knowledge is put, rather than in the knowledge itself? When, for instance, Claude Bernard published his great methodological treatise 109 years ago, and called it An Introduction to Experimental Medicine, was this title appropriate or was it a misnomer? Should he have called it instead, say, An Introduction to Experimental Physiology as Applicable to Medicine?


Medical Science Local Function Vital Function Functional Process Empirical Understanding 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company, Dordrecht, Holland 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephen Toulmin
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ChicagoChicagoUSA

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