The machine metaphor in medicine

Further cogitations on health

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In the first part of a paper I will present at the Austrian Economics Research Conference next week, I talk about the healthcare system’s elephant in the room: how an activity that occupies 18 percent of GDP is doing so without any precise definition of health.

The lack of definition does not mean that there aren’t any prevailing notions about health.  In fact, there is one particular concept that is clearly dominant, however implicit or covert it may be: it’s the notion of health that emerges if one adopts the “machine metaphor” for the body, a metaphor that is as pervasive as could be, given that it seems to have no viable counterpart (see, for example, here).

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