Criminalization, Medicalization, and the Nature of Disease
Keywords:Cancer, Overdiagnosis, Nature of disease, Medicalisation, Definition of disease, Speech act theory, Values in science
There are many analogies between medical and judicial practice. This article explores one such analogy, between “medicalization” and “criminalization.” Specifically, drawing on an analogy between a judge’s speech act of delivering a verdict and a physician’s speech act of giving a diagnosis, it suggests a novel account of the phenomenon of “overdiagnosis.” Using this approach, we can make some headway in understanding debates over the early detection of cancer. The final section outlines the relationship between this approach and familiar debates in philosophy of medicine on the nature of disease and in philosophy of science on the “value-free ideal.”
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