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Department Colloquium

Rebecca Kukla (Georgetown University and Kennedy Institute of Ethics
Friday, October 19, 2018
3:00-5:00 PM
3222 Angell Hall Map
A Pluralist, Pragmatist Theory of Disease

Philosophers have proposed various definitions of disease. These have
spanned the normative, the naturalistic, and the social constructivist, for
instance. I argue that disease is not a stable, univocal concept with a
correct definition that can be uncovered or even usefully stipulated.
Rather, the concept of disease shows up in deeply competing projects with
different practical and epistemic goals, and what counts as a disease
varies accordingly. There is no reason to think we have, or should have,
even roughly consistent notions of health and disease underlying these
different projects. There are a messy host of competing strategic reasons
to classify something as a disease or to resist doing so; accordingly, that
something is a disease is often a contingent, historically dependent,
context dependent, perhaps temporary fact about it. Any neater story we try
to tell will occlude some of the important purposes that categorizing
something as a disease can serve, and the complex harms and benefits that
can come with this categorization.
Building: Angell Hall
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: colloquium, Philosophy
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of Philosophy