In the spring 2021, Dr. Yvonne Unna (Department of Philosophy) is offering an important and engaging, special topics course (PHIL 2810) on the philosophy of medicine. What is the nature of Medicine? Is it an art? A science? A combination of both? Or is it a distinct intermediate discipline?
Dr. Unna notes that the crisis in the quality of care administered by contemporary medicine has prompted physicians and health care professionals to rethink the nature of medicine and ask these sorts of questions. It has been argued that the disenchantment with the depersonalized way in which modern high-tech medicine diagnoses and treats patients is the result of a dominant model in medical knowledge and practice called the "biomedical model." In order to address the shortcomings of the biomedical model, "humanistic models" attempt to either reform or replace the biomedical model with a holistic view of the patient and the patient-physician relationship.
In this course students will discuss some of the metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical assumptions of the biomedical and the humanistic model. The two models provide different answers to questions such as these: What is a disease? Is it a value-free or a value-laden concept? Is the physician attending to a disease or to an illness, to pain or to suffering? Is the therapeutic goal the health or the well-being of the patient? Can and should the patient be reduced to his or her physical body or be regarded as an embodied self? Should the physician's practice of medicine be characterized by emotionally detached care or empathic care? What should be the defining features of the patient-physician relationship? By answering these and other questions, students will gain a deep understanding of the nature and goal of Medicine.
Please contact the Philosophy Department Chair, Dr. Abe Zakhem at Abe.Zakhem@shu.edu for additional information about this course or the philosophy program at SHU.