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Talking about Health

A Philosophical Dialogue

Lennart Nordenfelt

This book is a scholarly treatise on the nature of health presented in the form of a dialogue between an inquirer and a philosopher. It attempts to do two things: first, to introduce modern philosophy of health to non-philosophers, in particular to people with a professional relation to health care; and second, to elaborate and specify in some detail the author's holistic theory of health. According to this theory, a person is completely healthy if, and only if, she or he is able to realize all her or his vital goals given reasonable circumstances. This theory is presented by the philosopher in the book, but it is at the same time scrutinized and criticized by the inquirer. Some of the criticisms presented, and to which the philosopher responds, have been put forward in published reviews of the author's earlier works. Towards the end of the book the author demonstrates how his philosophy of health can be applied to related areas, such as the theory of disability, and to modern ethical discussion, such as that concerning prioritization in health care. The book is supplemented with a list of definitions of central concepts and with an annotated bibliography.
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Lennart Nordenfelt

This book is a contribution to the current philosophical discussion on the nature of health and illness. It contains a comparative analysis and reevaluation of four influential contemporary theories in this field. These are the biostatistical theory of Christopher Boorse which represents the mainstream thinking in medicine, and three versions of a holistic and normative understanding of health and illness which are the theories of Lawrie Reznek, K. W. M. Fulford, and Lennart Nordenfelt. In this unusual volume of assessment, Nordenfelt critically reexamines his own theory, and George Khushf and K. W. M. Fulford contribute critical responses.
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Edited by Lennart Nordenfelt and Per-Erik Liss

This book contains scholarly contributions to several current debates in the philosophy of medicine and health care regarding the nature of health and health promotion, concepts and measurements of mental illness, phenomenological conceptions of health and illness, allocation of health care resources, criteria for proper medical science, the clinical meeting, and ethical constraints in such a meeting.
With one exception, the authors in this book are or have been teachers or graduate students at the interdisciplinary Department of Health and Society (Tema H) at Linköping University, Sweden. While all the texts have a philosophical focus, many other disciplines have influenced the choice of specific perspectives. The university backgrounds of the authors range from medicine, psychology, sociology, and religion to philosophy. What binds the authors together is their deep interest in the theory of medicine and in the pursuit of a philosophy of humanistic medicine and health care.