OverviewThis course is designed to introduce students to a number of philosophical issues arising from medical research and medical practice. Students will consider attempts to define the following terms – health, illness, and disease – and discuss what rests on their definition. Much medical practice proceeds as though medicine were a natural science. This module will probe the limitations of this conception. The placebo effect demonstrates the powerful influence of suggestion on the body and students will consider its relevance to philosophical ideas of the mind-body relation. Finally, students will consider ethical issues arising in medical practice, such as 'medically assisted death'.
This module appears in:
Total Contact Hours: 40
Also available under PL570 (Level 6)
Method of assessment
• Essay (3,200 words) – 55%
• Article Review (2,000 words) – 30%
• Seminar Participation – 15%
Indicative Reading List
Gadamer, H.-G. 1996. The Enigma of Health. Cambridge: Polity.
Gifford, F. (ed.). 2011. Philosophy of Medicine. Amsterdam: North-Holland.
Howick, J. 2011. The Philosophy of Evidence-based Medicine. Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Marcum, J. A. 2008. An Introductory Philosophy of Medicine Humanising Modern Medicine. Dordrecht: Springer.
Pellegrino, E. 2008. The Philosophy of Medicine Reborn: A Pellegrino Reader. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press.
On successfully completing the module Level 6 students will be able to:
8.4 Outline rival accounts, comprehensive and systematic understanding of their relative strengths and weaknesses, of the following concepts: health, disease, placebos, evidence and diagnosis, and the mind-body relation in the context of medicine;
8.5 Show deep and systematic understanding of phenomenological approaches to medicine;
8.6 Outline and show deep and systematic understanding of rival positions on one medically-related ethical issue, such as medically-assisted death.