Medical Philosophy. Conceptual Issues in Medicine

BUNGE, Mario Augusto, Medical Philosophy. Conceptual Issues in Medicine, Singapore-London-New York: World Scientific Publishing, 2013, pp. 288. ISBN: 978-981-4508-94-0

About the book

This is the first book that analyzes and systematizes all the general ideas of medicine, in particular the philosophical ones, which are usually tacit. Instead of focusing on one or two points –typically disease and clinical trial– this book examines all the salient aspects of biomedical research and practice: the nature of disease; the logic of diagnosis; the discovery and design of drugs; the design of lab and clinical trials; the crafting of therapies and design of protocols; the moral duties and rights of physicians and patients; the distinctive features of scientific medicine and of medical quackery; the unique combination of basic and translational research; the place of physicians and nurses in society; the task of medical sociology; and the need for universal medical coverage. Health care workers, medicine buffs, and philosophers will find this thought-provoking book highly useful in their line of work and research.

About the author

Born in Buenos Aires in 1919, Professor Mario Bunge earned his doctorate in physico-mathematical sciences from the National University of La Plata in Argentina, and has been a professor of theoretical physics and of philosophy. He joined McGill University in 1966, was given a named chair, and was recently made an emeritus professor. He has also been a visiting professor in numerous countries including the USA, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Mexico, Switzerland, and Australia. Professor Bunge holds 19 honorary doctorates and four honorary professorships, is a member of four academies and a Prince of Asturias laureate, and ranks #43 in the AAAS’ Science Hall of Fame. He has authored over 400 papers and more than 80 books on quantum theory, philosophy of science, semantics, epistemology, ontology, ethics, political philosophy, and science policy. An Interview with Mario Bunge



  1. Traditional Medicines
  2. Modern Medicine
  3. Disease
  4. Diagnosis
  5. Drug
  6. Trial
  7. Therapy
  8. Prevention
  9. Iatroethics
  10. Science or Technology, Craft or Service?

Sample Chapter(s)

Introduction (43 KB)

Chapter 1: Traditional Medicines (148 KB)


Professor Mario Bunge surprises us once more with a lucid discussion of the philosophy of medicine … The insights gained will provide the reader with a more complete vision of the underpinnings of medical theory and practice … It is likely that one will find Bunge’s prose entertaining as well as enlightening.”

Ernesto L Schiffrin

Professor of Medicine

McGill University, Canada

 “Professor Bunge argues masterfully that physicians, whether or not they are aware of it, operate in the context of a philosophical framework, elegantly presented in this text, that has been influenced by centuries of thought … I recommend this enriching and provocative book broadly.”

Bradley L Schlaggar

A Ernest and Jane G Stein Professor of Developmental Neurology

Washington University in St. Louis, USA

“ … With his brilliant and creative blend of ontological systemic materialism, epistemological realism, science based technology, and humanist ethics, Professor Bunge deals innovatively with the philosophical underpinnings of modern medicine … You will never think about medicine in the same way again.”

Carles Muntaner

Professor of Nursing, Public Health and Psychiatry

University of Toronto, Canada

“This book  –the most recent reflections of a life spent in physics, philosophy, and other disciplines– introduces the reader to many familiar questions but puts a philosophical spin on them … This is a tour de force not to be missed by anyone who likes his or her medicine to be leavened with thought.”

Edward Shorter

Professor of the History of Medicine and Psychiatry

University of Toronto, Canada

 “Through his cross-disciplinary philosophical perspective, Mario Bunge gives us physicians a clear orientation … Bunge does not confine himself to evidence-based medicine, the one centered in randomized controlled trials, i.e., our ‘gold standard.’ He proposes convincingly an even higher-quality measure: the ‘platinum standard,’ which is met by therapies that are not only experimentally validated, but also enjoy the support of the scientific knowledge of biological mechanisms.”

Dietmar König


RheinischeOrthopedic Clinic

“For me, as a sociologist, Professor Bunge’s systemic perspective and ‘integral’ analysis of healthy and disease-causing processes acting upon us in our social environment is particularly enlightening. In this context, Bunge impressively makes use of important research results indicating how medical scientists should expand their old-fashioned models of human health.”

Heinz W Droste