Why It (Also) Matters What Infectious Disease Epidemiologists Call “Disease”


  • David Stoellger Fakultät für Geschichtswissenschaft, Philosophie und Theologie, Universität Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany https://orcid.org/0000-0001-9842-2196




Disease, Definition of disease, Philosophy of epidemiology


Infectious diseases figure prominently as (counter)examples in debates on how to conceptualize “disease.” But crucial epidemiological distinctions are often not heeded in the debate, and pathological and clinical perspectives focusing on individual patients are favored at the expense of perspectives from epidemiology focusing on populations. In clarifying epidemiological concepts, this paper highlights the distinct contributions infectious disease epidemiology can make to the conception of “disease,” and the fact that this is at least tacitly recognized by medical personnel and philosophers. Crucially, infectious disease epidemiology can help elucidate how carrying and transmitting infectious, communicable entities is a disease, even if the carriers themselves are not directly affected by symptoms detrimental to them.



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How to Cite

Stoellger, D. (2023). Why It (Also) Matters What Infectious Disease Epidemiologists Call “Disease”. Philosophy of Medicine, 4(1). https://doi.org/10.5195/pom.2023.149



Original Research Articles (epidemiology, public health, health policy)

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