Faces of medicine: A philosophical study

Kluwer, Dordrecht, Netherlands (1988).

Medical science in western culture is ill-defined. It is dominated by biology, but one cannot rest content with a purely biological approach to health and disease. Medical psychology, sociology and anthropology all try to compensate for the traditional one-sidedness of medical knowledge. The search for compensation touches medical practice as well. Holistic and other alternative approaches are now flourishing, some of them associated with unorthodox forms of medical theory. Thus various problems of demarcation threaten the coherence of medicine. The authors argue that such problems are often improperly addressed both in medical science and in the philosophy of medicine. They critically analyse current forms of philosophical bias. The analysis shows that philosophy often serves to conceal ignorance in matters of science. One needs flexibility and open-mindedness if one wants to narrow the gap that now separates various traditions in medicine. The book draws examples from Anglo-Saxon sources, but it also scrutinizes developments in continental Europe.