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Philosophy of Medicine$
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Alex Broadbent

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190612139

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190612139.001.0001

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The Goal of Medicine

The Goal of Medicine

Chapter 2 The Goal of Medicine
Philosophy of Medicine

Alex Broadbent

Oxford University Press

In order to say what medicine is, we need to identify the goal of medicine, the business of medicine, and the nature of health and disease. This chapter introduces the Curative Thesis: both the goal and business of medicine are cure. The Curative Thesis is found to be correct that there is one ultimate goal of medicine: cure. Definitions of cure (and therapy) are discussed. The chapter considers and rejects the view that pain relief is a goal of medicine. The Puzzle of Ineffective Medicine and the Argument from the Persistence of Ineffective Medicine are introduced, concluding that the business of medicine cannot be cure. The business of medicine is the use of a competence or skill, and the persistence of ineffective medicine shows that curing is often not a competence doctors always—or even commonly—possess. But we still recognize medical skill, which must therefore be something else.

Keywords:   Curative Thesis, goal of medicine, pain relief, preventive medicine, Puzzle of Ineffective Medicine, Argument from the Persistence of Ineffective Medicine

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