The Elements of Diagnosis

  • William E. Stempsey
Part of the Philosophy and Medicine book series (PHME, volume 63)


So far, we have been considering the concept of disease and the classification of diseases largely from a metaphysical standpoint. I have argued that diseases are socially constructed, but that this does not mean diseases are merely made up to suit our present fancy. Diseases, and biomedical problems in general, are constructed from facts and from values. We have looked at various ontological conceptions of disease and various nosologies. We have seen that foundational values are essential parts of the facts that constitute them, conceptual values are essential parts of our understanding of the concept of disease, and nosological values are necessary to classify various collections of facts as different kinds of diseases. Hence, in any biomedical problem there is an intimate connection between fact and value.


Diagnostic Process Physical Finding Positive Test Result Ontological Conception Ambiguous Stimulus 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • William E. Stempsey
    • 1
  1. 1.College of the Holy CrossWorcesterUSA

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