The Ethics of Reductionism in the Medical Sciences Essays

The Ethics of Reductionism in the Medical Sciences Essays

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While Marcum’s philosophy focuses on medical research at the molecular, genetic, and tissue levels, Elisabeth Lloyd emphasizes the socioeconomic factors of health. She presents an empirical trend that permeates through a number of cross-national studies: the degree of income inequality in any given society is strongly correlated with the society’s level of morbidity and mortality. This means that if a society’s income gradient is steep (the poor are severely more poor than the rich), the worse off everyone is – rich and poor. This phenomenon can be seen in a wide range of diseases, including allergies, asthma, accelerated aging, cancer, epilepsy, Grave’s disease, multiple sclerosis, myocardial infarction, PTSD, rheumatoid arthritis, just to name a few. Because both the rich and the poor are affected by this trend, material deprivation (i.e. unhealthier food, lack of regular doctor visits, etc.) does not seem to be the cause of lower health rates in societies with poorer poor. Rather, this suggests that it is one’s childhood experience, social environment, and the conditions under which people spend their daily lives that directly affect individual biological responses, which lead to differences in resilience and vulnerability to disease. It seems that anything contributing to an individual’s chronic anxiety is likely to affect his or her overall health. Levels of social anxiety may be affected by the depression, isolation, insecurities, and anxiety that are associated with a certain social environment. Thus, in societies with higher income gradient, there is a higher degree of inequalities, more differing social classes, numerous people with feelings of deprivation, and less social cohesion. To support this claim, Lloyd presents e...


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...hen the object of treatment is not regarded as an integrated whole, not only in terms of the individual, but also with the person’s environmental context in mind.



Works Cited

Lloyd, Elsabeth A. “Reductionism in Medicine: Social Aspects of Health.” Promises and Limits
of Reductionism in the Biomedical Sciences. Eds. Van Regenmortel, Marc H., and David L. Hull. Chichester, West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons, 2002. Print.

Marcum, J.A. "Metaphysical Presuppositions and Scientific Practices: Reductionism and
Organicism in Cancer Research." International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 19.1 (2005): 31-45. Print.
Tauber, Alfred I. “The Ethical Imperative of Holism in Medicine.” Promises and Limits of
Reductionism in the Biomedical Sciences. Eds. Van Regenmortel, Marc H., and David L.
Hull. Chichester, West Sussex, England: John Wiley & Sons, 2002. Print.

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