The Growth of Medical Knowledge: An Epistemological Exploration

  • Paul J. Thung
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 36)


This paper has been inspired by two contrasting views on modern medicine. One is the conviction, popular since at least some 100 years, that medicine is becoming progressively more effective. Drawing on a growing store of knowledge and technology, modern science will ultimately enable man to live out his natural life-time with a minimum of ill-health or disease. The other view is more recent and less optimistic. Since the late 1960s it has been observed that modern medicine often impedes effective health care, especially under conditions of poverty. It draws away means and manpower needed for the prevention and treatment of wholesale health-deficiencies of the general population, and spends them on sophisticated diagnosis and repair of the afflictions of the urban upper class [3, 5].


Natural Science Medical Knowledge Experimental Science Scientific Progress Scientific Realism 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Bernal, J.D.: 1965, Science in History, Watts & Co, London.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Bernard, C.: 1865, Introduction à l’étude de la Médecine Expérimentale, Baillière, Paris.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Bryant, J.: 1969, Health and the Developing World, Cornell University Press, Ithaca and London.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Heidegger, M.: 1962, Die Frage nach dem Ding, Niemeyer, Tübingen, F.R.G.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    King, M.: 1967, Medical Care in Developing Countries, Oxford University Press, Nairobi and London.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Kuhn, T.S.: 1970, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London (especially Ch. XIII and Postscript).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kuhn, T.S.: 1977, The Essential Tension, University of Chicago Press, Chicago and London.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Maclntyre, A.: 1984, After Virtue, University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, Indiana.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    McKeown, T.: 1984, The Role of Medicine, Blackwell, Oxford.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Medawar, P.B.: 1974, The Hope of Progress?, Wildwood House, London.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Niiniluota, I.: 1984, Is Science Progressive?, D. Reidel Publishing Co., Dordrecht, Netherlands.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Payer, L.: 1988, Medicine and Culture, Henry Holt and Company, New York.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Popper, K.: 1973, Objective Knowledge, Clarendon Press, Oxford.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Steen, W.J. van der, and Thung, P.J.: 1988, Faces of Medicine, Kluwer Academic Publishers, Dordrecht, Netherlands (especially Ch. V, VI).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1990

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul J. Thung
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LeidenLeidenThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations