Medicalization, Justice, and the Definition of Health

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Albin O. Kuhn Library Gallery

Rebecca Kukla, Kennedy Institute of Ethics and Department of Philosophy, Georgetown University

Dr. Kukla distinguishes between ‘scientistic’ definitions of health – whose goal is to give an account of health and disease that meets the standards of the natural sciences – and ‘thick normative’ definitions of health  - whose goal is to characterize health in a way that makes the notion useful within a normative account of social justice and health policy.   She proposes a thick normative account of health that defines health in relationship to social institutions and practices, but which is also responsive to naturalistic facts about the body in a way that standard social constructionist accounts of health and disease are not.

Rebecca Kukla received her B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Toronto in 1990 and her Ph.D. in Philosophy from the University of Pittsburgh in 1996. From 2003-2005, she was a Greenwall Fellow in Bioethics and Health Policy at The Johns Hopkins University. In the summer of 2004, she was a Visiting Scholar at the USDA, studying ethical issues concerning food and nutrition assistance programs. She also received her Sommelier certification from Algonquin College in 2007.


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