A second rebuttal on health

J Med Philos. 2014 Dec;39(6):683-724. doi: 10.1093/jmp/jhu035.


This essay replies to critics since 1995 of my "biostatistical theory" (BST) of health. According to the BST, a pathological condition is a state of statistically species-subnormal biological part-functional ability, relative to sex and age. Theoretical health, the total absence of pathological conditions, is then a value-free scientific notion. Recent critics offer a mixture of old and new objections to this analysis. Some new ones relate to choice of reference class, situation-specificity of function, common diseases and healthy populations, improvements in population health, the practice of pathologists, "Cambridge changes" in health status, and comparative vs. absolute health concepts. I make no changes in doctrine, except to consider treating "normal aging" as pathological by taking young adults as the standard for all adults.

Keywords: biostatistical theory; disease; disorder; dysfunction; health; pathology; philosophy of medicine.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Biostatistics
  • Disease*
  • Health*
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Models, Theoretical
  • Philosophy, Medical*
  • Sex Factors