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Hempelian and Kuhnian approaches in the philosophy of medicine: the Semmelweis case

Gillies, DA; (2005) Hempelian and Kuhnian approaches in the philosophy of medicine: the Semmelweis case. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences , 36 (1) pp. 159-181. 10.1016/j.shpsc.2004.12.003. Green open access

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Abstract

Semmelweis?s investigations of puerperal fever are some of the most interesting in the history of medicine. This paper considers Hempel?s (1966) analysis of the Semmelweis case. It argues that this analysis is inadequate and needs to be supplemented by some Kuhnian ideas. Kuhn?s notion of paradigm needs to be modified to apply to medicine in order to take account of the classification schemes involved in medical theorising. However with a suitable modification it provides an explanation of Semmelweis?s failure which is argued to be superior to some of the external reasons often given. Despite this success in applying Kuhn?s ideas to medicine, it is argued that these ideas must be further modified to take account of the fact that medicine is not a natural science but primarily a practice designed to prevent and cure diseases.

Type: Article
Title: Hempelian and Kuhnian approaches in the philosophy of medicine: the Semmelweis case
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.shpsc.2004.12.003
Additional information: Imported via OAI, 16:54:26 4th May 2005
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL BEAMS > Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences > Dept of Science and Technology Studies
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/464
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