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Holism and Reductionism in the Illness/Disease Debate

Buzzoni, Marco and Tesio, Luigi and Stuart, Michael T. (2022) Holism and Reductionism in the Illness/Disease Debate. From Electrons to Elephants and Elections: Saga of Content and Context. pp. 743-778. ISSN 978-3-030-92192-7

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Abstract

In the last decades it has become clear that medicine must find some way to combine its scientific and humanistic sides. In other words, an adequate notion of medicine requires an integrative position that mediates between the analytic-reductionist and the normative-holistic tendencies we find therein. This is especially important as these different styles of reasoning separate “illness” (something perceived and managed by the whole individual in concert with their environment) and “disease” (a “mechanical failure” of a biological element within the body). While the demand for an integrative view has typically been motivated by ethical concerns, we claim that it is also motivated, perhaps even more fundamentally, by epistemological and methodological reasons. Evidence-based bio-medicine employs experimental and statistical techniques which eliminate important differences in the ways that conscious humans evaluate, live with, and react to disease and illness. However, it is precisely these experiences that underpin the concepts and norms of bio-medicine. Humanistic disciplines, on the other hand, have the resources to investigate these experiences in an intersubjectively testable way. Medicine, therefore, cannot afford to ignore its nature as a human science; it must be concerned not only with disease and illness, but also with the ways in which patients as persons respond to malady. Insofar as attitudes and expectations influence the criteria of illness and disease, they must be studied as part of the genuine subject matter of medicine as a human science. In general, we urge that this is a necessary step to overcome today's trend to split evidence-based and clinical medicine.


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Item Type: Published Article or Volume
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
Buzzoni, Marcomarco.buzzoni@unimc.it0000-0002-4729-7169
Tesio, Luigiluigi.tesio@unimi.it
Stuart, Michael T.mike.stuart.post@gmail.com0000-0002-4165-2641
Keywords: Holism; Reductionism; Illness: Disease: Philosophy of Medicine; Epistemology of Science
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
Specific Sciences > Medicine > Biomedical Ethics
Specific Sciences > Medicine > Clinical Trials
General Issues > Ethical Issues
Specific Sciences > Medicine > Health and Disease
Specific Sciences > Medicine
Specific Sciences > Medicine > Psychiatry
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
General Issues > Science and Society
Specific Sciences > Sociology
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Depositing User: Michael T. Stuart
Date Deposited: 21 Apr 2022 04:03
Last Modified: 21 Apr 2022 04:03
Item ID: 20465
Journal or Publication Title: From Electrons to Elephants and Elections: Saga of Content and Context
Publisher: Springer
Official URL: https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-3-03...
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1007/978-3-030-92192-7_39
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
Specific Sciences > Biology > Molecular Biology/Genetics
Specific Sciences > Medicine > Biomedical Ethics
Specific Sciences > Medicine > Clinical Trials
General Issues > Ethical Issues
Specific Sciences > Medicine > Health and Disease
Specific Sciences > Medicine
Specific Sciences > Medicine > Psychiatry
General Issues > Reductionism/Holism
General Issues > Science and Society
Specific Sciences > Sociology
General Issues > Theory/Observation
Date: April 2022
Page Range: pp. 743-778
ISSN: 978-3-030-92192-7
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/20465

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