The ends of medicine are sometimes construed simply as promotion of health, treatment and prevention of disease, and alleviation of pain. Practitioners might agree that this simple formulation captures much of what medical practice is about. But while the ends of medicine may seem simple or even obvious, the essays in this issue demonstrate the wide variety of philosophical questions and issues associated with the ends of medicine. They raise questions about how to characterize terms like “health” and “disease”; whether medicine’s goals should be extended to include enhancement beyond normal human function; and whether the ends of medicine are binding on those involved in health care outside of professional medicine, such as pharmaceutical companies. They also give philosophical attention to patient experiences, and so raise questions about whether current practices achieve the ends of medicine from the perspective of the patient. Together these essays demonstrate the important role played by a conception of medicine’s ends in a wide variety of issues and problems in the philosophy and ethics of medicine.
Available for download on Friday, April 01, 2022