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The Goals of Medicine. A Philosophical Analysis

Monograph Fellowships


After astonishing advances during the “golden age” of medicine in the twentieth century, an increasing number of medical professionals maintain that we are currently witnessing the beginnings of its fall. Medicine is increasingly criticized for overmedicalization, lack of compassionate care, and exaggerated claims of effectiveness. While critics claim that medicine has diverted from its course in a way that violates the norms dictated by its own goals, the exact nature of these goals remains in the dark. The book will offer a philosophical analysis and explication of these goals in a way that will help address questions about the proper boundaries of medicine, the suitable use of medical means, and the appropriate allocation of health care goods.


Facing criticism and severe challenges connected to an aging population, the scope of medicine is fated to be reconsidered in the twenty-first century. At this important threshold, a systematic philosophical examination of the goals of medicine might be expected to assist an informed deliberation about its future. Nonetheless, there is no detailed, book-length attempt that addresses this issue. By filling this gap, the book will occupy a distinctive place in the literature, provide a novel contribution to the philosophy of medicine, and offer input for rethinking the agenda of medical research, health care delivery, and the education of health care personnel.


To reach its aims, the book will develop a specific methodological approach. Whereas analytic and normative aspirations are usually kept separate in the literature, the book will develop a distinct approach which emphasizes that in the realm of medicine fact and value are often inescapably joined.


Medicine seems to have reached a critical threshold that indicates an approaching transformation. The current situation provides a fertile ground for addressing more fundamental, philosophical questions about its nature and main goals. Such an undertaking has direct implications for not just medical professionals, but for anyone who encounters illness and needs to assess medical advice. By explicating the goal of medicine and the restrictions it imposes on medical research and health care, the book will not only advance philosophical debates, but also offer input for rethinking the agenda of medical research and the allocation of health care resources.