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Book review: Jacob Stegenga, Care & Cure. An introduction to philosophy of medicine, Chicago: the University of Chicago Press, 2018

In this comprehensive book review, Isabella Sarto-Jackson draws attention to "Care and Cure: An Introduction to Philosophy of Medicine" by Jacob Stegenga, published in 2018. Isabella emphasizes the ongoing relevance of the book, especially in light of the heightened public interest in health and medicine following the recent global pandemic. Opening with the line, “It is the best of times and it is the worst of times to grapple with philosophy of medicine”, Isabella highlights the increasingly widening chasm that separates scientific progress in biomedical research and science skepticism and denialism: a tale of two contrasting narratives. While this book started as an introduction to the philosophy of medicine, Isabella suggests that the book serves as a fine place to catch up with contemporary discourse rather than relying on superficial internet searches. In her lucid, well-structured writing, Isabella gives a comprehensive and balanced review of this book.

Here is an excerpt from the review article:

"A few years after the release of Care & Cure, it has become increasingly clear that precision medicine and precision public health that aim at tailoring treatment and interventions to unique individual or population-level traits, respectively, can complement conventional public health approaches, e.g., by establishing vulnerability indices as indicators of infection rates, population concentration, intervention measures, and health and environmental vulnerabilities to show real-time county-level trends and vulnerabilities. Understanding this theoretical potential and putative great avail of precision medicine and precision public health may well be a game-changer for health care management and policy if applied globally. In order to elucidate this potential, it is necessary to understand how to measure effectiveness in health care and medicine. In Care & Cure, Stegenga discusses one of the most frequently misunderstood outcome measures, i.e., measuring the effectiveness of intervention. It has been shown previously that there is a widespread inability to reason with probabilities, not only by lay persons, but also by many doctors, journalists, and politicians. Such limits of understanding can lead to wrong conclusions about effect sizes of medical treatment."

This review was published by the journal History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences and can be found at:

Sarto-Jackson, I., 2024. Jacob Stegenga, Care & Cure. An introduction to philosophy of medicine, Chicago: the University of Chicago Press, 2018, 288 pp.