The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Medicine: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Medicine

1st Edition

Edited by Miriam Solomon, Jeremy R. Simon, Harold Kincaid


564 pages | 9 B/W Illus.

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The Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Medicine is a comprehensive guide to topics in the fields of epistemology and metaphysics of medicine. It examines traditional topics such as the concept of disease, causality in medicine, the epistemology of the randomized controlled trial, the biopsychosocial model, explanation, clinical judgment and phenomenology of medicine and emerging topics, such as philosophy of epidemiology, measuring harms, the concept of disability, nursing perspectives, race and gender, the metaphysics of Chinese medicine, and narrative medicine. Each of the 48 chapters is written especially for this volume and with a student audience in mind. For pedagogy and clarity, each chapter contains an extended example illustrating the ideas discussed. This text is intended for use as a reference for students in courses in philosophy of medicine and philosophy of science, and pairs well with The Routledge Companion to Bioethics for use in medical humanities and social science courses.


"Medicine’s challenges often appear to be purely scientific and technical – but those who work in clinical pratice or health policy know all too well that science and technology generate as many intellectual challenges as they solve. This book, whose diverse contributors include many at the cutting edge of philosophical inquiry, illuminates and explores these complex challenges. Reassuringly, few chapters offer easy answers or quick fixes."

Trisha Greenhalgh, University of Oxford, UK

"Unlike its sibling discipline, medical ethics, the philosophy of medicine has long needed an anthology that surveys the field and the Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Medicine fills that need. This collection provides a comprehensive overview of the methods and subjects of this emerging and exciting academic field. I am sure that this will become the standard introduction to the philosophy of medicine."

Tod Chambers, Northwestern University USA

Table of Contents


  1. The concept of disease (Dominic Sisti and Arthur Caplan)
  2. Disease, illness, and sickness (Bjorn Hofmann)
  3. Health and wellbeing (Daniel Hausman)
  4. Disability and normality (Anita Silvers)
  5. Mechanisms in medicine (Phyllis Illari)
  6. Causality and causal inference in medicine (Julian Reiss)
  7. Frequency and propensity: The interpretation of probability in causal models for medicine (Donald Gillies)
  8. Reductionism in the biomedical sciences (Holly Andersen)
  9. Realism and constructivism in medicine (Jeremy R. Simon)

  11. Birth (Christina Schuees)
  12. Death (Steven Luper)
  13. Pain and suffering (Valerie Gray Hardcastle)
  14. Measuring placebo effects (Jeremy Howick)
  15. The concept of genetic disease (Jonathan M. Kaplan)
  16. Diagnostic categories (Annemarie Jutel)
  17. Classificatory challenges in psychopathology (Harold Kincaid)
  18. Classificatory challenges in physical disease (Mathias Brochhausen)


(a) Evidence in Medicine

18. The randomized controlled trial: internal and external validity (Adam La Caze)

19. The hierarchy of evidence, meta-analysis, and systematic review (Robyn Bluhm)

20. Statistical evidence and the reliability of medical research (Mattia Andreoletti & David Teira)

21. Bayesian versus Frequentist clinical trials (Cecilia Nardini)

22. Observational research (Olaf Dekkers & Jan Vandenbroucke)

23. Philosophy of epidemiology (Alex Broadbent)

24. Complementary/alternative medicine and the evidence requirement (Kirsten Hansen & Klemmens Kappel)

b. Other Research Methods

25. Models in medicine (Michael Wilde & Jon Williamson)

26. Discovery in medicine (Brendan Clarke)

27. Explanation in medicine (Mael Lemoine)

28. The case study in medicine (Rachel Ankeny)

29. Values in medical research (Kirstin Borgersen)

30. Outcome measures in medicine (Leah McClimans)

31. Measuring harms (Jacob Stegenga)

32. Expert consensus (Miriam Solomon)


33. Clinical judgment (Ross Upshur & Benjamin Chin-Yee)

34. Narrative medicine (Danielle Spencer)

35. Medical decision making: diagnosis, treatment, and prognosis (Ashley Graham Kennedy)


36. Personalized and Precision Medicine (Alex Gamma)

37. Gender in Medicine (Inmaculada de Melo Martin & Kristin Intemann)

38. Race in Medicine (Sean Valles)

39. Atypical bodies in medical care (Ellen Feder)


40. The biomedical model and the biopsychosocial model (Fred Gifford)

41. Models of mental illness (Jacqueline Sullivan)

42. Phenomenology and hermeneutics in Medicine (Havi Carel)

43. Evolutionary Medicine (Michael Cournoyea)

44. Philosophy of Nursing: caring, holism and the nursing role(s) (Mark Risjord)

45. Contemporary Chinese medicine and its theoretical foundations (Judith Farquhar)

46. Double truths and the postcolonial predicament of Chinese medicine (Eric Karchmer)

47. Medicine as a commodity (Carl Elliott)

About the Editors

Miriam Solomon is Professor and Chair in the Philosophy Department at Temple University, and Affiliated Professor at the Center for Bioethics, Urban Health, and Policy at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. She works in the areas of philosophy of science, philosophy of medicine, epistemology, and feminist philosophy. She is the author of Social Empiricism (2001), Making Medical Knowledge (2015), and numerous articles. She is Fellow of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia.

Jeremy R. Simon, MD, PhD, is an emergency physician. He is Associate Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center, an attending physician in the New York-Presbyterian Emergency Medicine residency, and a member of the Ethics Consultation Service at New York-Presbyterian/CUMC. His primary academic research is in philosophy of medicine, and he also writes on medical ethics.

Harold Kincaid is Professor of Economics at the University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is the author of numerous books, book chapters, and articles in the philosophy of science. Among his many books is the most recent, Classifying Psychopathology: Mental Illness and Natural Kinds (2014).

About the Series

Routledge Philosophy Companions

Routledge Philosophy Companions offer thorough, high quality surveys and assessments of the major topics and periods in philosophy. Covering key problems, themes and thinkers, all entries are specially commissioned for each volume and written by leading scholars in the field. Clear, accessible and carefully edited and organised, Routledge Philosophy Companions are indispensable for anyone coming to a major topic or period in philosophy, as well as for the more advanced reader.

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