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Keywords:

  • constructive realism;
  • cystic fibrosis;
  • disease;
  • medicine;
  • metaphysics;
  • ontology;
  • philosophy;
  • progress

Abstract

Rationale  One's understanding of medical progress – what it is, how it is pursued and how it is assessed – may be deeply dependent on one's understanding of the metaphysics of medicine, and of diseases in particular.

Aims and Objectives  In this paper I present a new account of the nature of diseases, neither realist nor constructivist, and describe what progress in medicine looks like if we understand diseases in this way.

Conclusions  This new account, Constructive Realism, may provide a better account of medicine than either realism or constructivism.