How to Be a Naturalist and a Social Constructivist about Diseases


  • Brandon A. Conley Department of Philosophy, Colgate University
  • Shane N. Glackin Department of Sociology, Philosophy, and Anthropology, University of Exeter



Disease, Dysfunction, Normativism, Naturalism, Social Constructivism


Debates about the concept of disease have traditionally been framed as a competition between two conflicting approaches: naturalism, on the one hand, and normativism or social constructivism, on the other. In this article, we lay the groundwork for a naturalistic form of social constructivism by (1) dissociating the presumed link between value-free conceptions of disease and a broadly naturalistic approach; (2) offering a naturalistic argument for a form of social constructivism; and (3) suggesting avenues that strike us as especially promising for filling in the details of an alternative approach and addressing the most obvious objections.


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How to Cite

Conley, B. A., & Glackin, S. N. (2021). How to Be a Naturalist and a Social Constructivist about Diseases. Philosophy of Medicine, 2(1).



Original Research Articles (health, disease and illness)