To assess the character of disease, we have looked to a range of philosophical views regarding the nature of and methods of knowing disease. To assess its significance, we explored a range of conceptual accounts regarding the role values play in knowing disease. We found that in our analyses, an account of disease in terms of limited realism, representative realism, and limited stipulative values is unavoidable. This is the case because disease is an evolving construct that provides structure and significance to clinical reality and patient complaints. Disease tells us something about the structure of reality, the ways we know it, the ways we control and manipulate it, and the ways we evaluate it. As a consequence, we come to construe disease as the outcome of the choices among various communities of individuals. The more one recognizes these conditions, the more medicine will enhance human goals. This account sets disease within the broader scope of human endeavors. It is offered as a thoughtful expression of ourselves as knowers and manipulators of clinical reality. It is offered as a basis for further reflection on the ways in which we explain disease to ourselves, to patients and related parties, and to those who influence and are influenced by health care policy.
KeywordsClinical Reality Human Endeavor Patient Complaint Philosophical Reflection Related Party
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