- 医学哲学 医学倫理 (ISSN:02896427)
- vol.22, pp.69-75, 2004-10-18 (Released:2018-02-01)
What is meant when a doctor says, "You are healthy" after the health examination? Is it possible to diagnose a person to be healthy? In fact, this question comes from a confusion between science and values. Health is not a scientific term but a value-laden, normative concept. So your doctor can only say "I couldn't find any disease," not "You are healthy." Clinical medicine textbooks describe many diseases, but they never give a working definition of "health". There are many diseases to be diagnosed but only one "health." "Health" is unique for each person and stands outside any medical investigations. When one tries to define health he will tend to fall into a circular discussion: Health is an absence of diseases and disease is a lack of health. One typical definition of health has been given by the WHO (1946). The WHO defined health as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being. Some critics say that the WHO definition merely replaced the word "health" with "well-being." Many philosophers have proposed non-circular, positive definitions of health. However, like the WHO, they eventually fall into theories of happiness, which are very important, but cannot be applied to medicine as science. In contrast to clinical, the textbooks of public health education have rich descriptions of health. Public health officers also stress the importance of health. As shown in the slogan "health promotion," the health and disease of a population is recognized as a quantitative concept which may increase or decrease. In conclusion, health examinations don't diagnose a person as being healthy. All we can do is a massscreening of diseases. The true meaning of health depends on each person's view of happiness and as such, it is not a pure medical problem.