Francesco Gagliardi

Theories of Diagnosis: Philosophy, Cognition and History

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Philosophy of Medicine, Analytical Philosophy, Cognitive Science, Clinical Reasoning, History of Medicine, Artificial Intelligence.

Diagnosis is the process of attributing a disease to a patient based on the clinical signs and symptoms he or she manifests. In the philosophy of medicine, the various ways in which the diagnostic procedure can be carried out have been formalized with the theories of diagnosis. According to these theories, there are two main types of diagnosis: the causal diagnosis, which is based on the «explanation » of the clinical case considered, and the nosological diagnosis, which is based on the «recognition» of a typical morbid picture in the patient considered. In this work we consider diagnosis as a particular cognitive process of categorization and conceptualization of the human mind carried out in the clinical setting. This allows us to analyze and relate the theories of diagnosis with the theories of concepts developed in cognitive sciences – in particular with theory of theory and theory of typicality – and with the computational models introduced in Artificial Intelligence. Furthermore, we show how the theories of diagnosis have their origins in the various attempts to naturalize and conceptualize the disease that arose in the history of medicine: the functionalist and the essentialist ones. This allows us to better analyze the differences and specificities of theories of diagnosis and, at the same time, to provide further support for the link between diagnosis theories and concept theories. The theories of diagnosis, theories of categorization and the different possible conceptualizations of the disease result, therefore, in a sort of circular interdependence.

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