The philosophy of medicine: development of a discipline

Med Health Care Philos. 2004;7(3):243-51. doi: 10.1007/s11019-004-6469-1.


This paper is a critical examination of the development of the philosophy of medicine as a discipline. It highlights two major themes in the contemporary debate about the philosophy of medicine: the scope of the discipline and the relation of the discipline to its cognate disciplines. A broad view of the philosophy of medicine is defended and the philosophy of medicine is seen as a philosophical sub-discipline. These views depend in important ways on three factors: a general metaphysical world view, particular understandings of the cognate disciplines, and the perspective from which one asks the questions about the nature of the discipline. It is proposed that the future of the philosophy of medicine may follow the philosophy of science in that philosophical, sociological and historical studies may combine in a mutually enriching way to form "medicine studies."

Publication types

  • Historical Article
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • History, 18th Century
  • History, 19th Century
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Philosophy, Medical* / history