Naturalism, Disease, and Levels of Functional Description.


The paper engages Christopher Boorse’s Bio-Statistical Theory (BST). In its current form, BST runs into a significant challenge. For BST to account for its central tenet—that lower-level part-dysfunction is sufficient for higher-level pathology—it must provide criteria for how to decide which lower-level parts are the ones to be analyzed for health or pathology. As BST is a naturalistic theory, such choices must be based solely on naturalistic considerations. An argument is provided to show that, if BST is to be preserved, such parthood choices are based on non-naturalistic considerations. We demonstrate that even when parthood choices are based on the best way to preserve BST, there are counterintuitive results which bring the central tenet of BST into question.

Publication Title

The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy