Family medicine has grown as a specialty from its early days of general practice. It was established as a Board Certified specialty in 1969. This growth and maturation can be traced in the philosophy of family medicine as articulated by Edmund D. Pellegrino, M.D. Long before it was popular to do so, Pellegrino supported the development of family medicine. In this essay I examine the development of Pellegrino's philosophical thought about family practice, and contrast it to other thinkers like Ian McWhinney, Kerr White, Walter Spitzer, Donald Ransom, and Hebert Vandervoort. The arguments focus on whether the goals of family medicine and family practice (possibly two distinct entities) can be articulated, especially considering the definitional problems of "family" and "community." I conclude by echoing Pellegrino's hope that family medicine can contribute a fresh alternative to isolated, individualistic and technological thinking in medicine.