The philosophy of medicine explicated herein is based on the analysis of the metaphysical, epistemological, and ethical boundaries of the biomedical and humanistic or humane models of medical knowledge and practice, in order to address the current quality-of-care crisis in contemporary medicine. That crisis requires a close philosophical analysis in these terms to provide a systematic framework to assess the various humanistic or humane modifications to the biomedical model. Such an assessment is required to choose wisely among the various options for medical knowledge and practice, especially in terms of defining the very nature of medicine itself. For the quality-of-care crisis is really a crisis over the nature of medicine. Should medicine be strictly a science? What role does or should the art of medicine play in medical practice? An important means of addressing these questions and others like them and the quality-of-care crisis is through philosophy, as well as through history, sociology, anthropology, and the other social sciences. The aim of the book is to provide a systematical analysis of the nature of medicine from a philosophical perspective, i.e. to explore the answers to the question, "What is medicine?," and to assist, in part, in the resolution of the quality-of-care crisis facing modern American medicine.
Although the future direction of modern medicine cannot be presaged or even the direction it should take cannot be dictated, it is clear that its deep-seated commitment to the human condition cannot be lost without tremendous impairment to its main task: healthcare. By investigating the philosophical boundaries of the competing and evolving models for medical knowledge and practice, it is evident that there is no simple solution to the crisis facing modern medicine. Certainly there is a paradigmatic shift underway in medicine and is required if medicine is to succeed in the twenty first century.