Phil265/Rels265 Final Exam 31 Multiple choice or True-False worth 1 mark each 3 Short Answer Questions from choice of 5 worth 3 marks each (paragraph or two in length) Introduction to Philosophy




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Eg. Cancer and Cardiovascular disease



Lifespan & Life Expectancy

  • Average life expectancy increased dramatically in the 20th century (48-79)

  • The single most important factor is the reduction of death in infancy caused by increased nutrition and sanitation (92% by 1950)

  • Medicine has only marginally affected expectancy (5-10 yrs)

  • Expectancy at age 60 has only increased 2 years in last 50



Cancer as Example of Social Dimension to Health

  • Some people explain rising cancer rates as a natural outcome of our aging population, but the rates are increasing among other age groups too (childhood cancers have risen over 20 per cent in 30 years)

  • What accounts for such change?

  • Vast majority of research into cancer involves searching for a cure (allopathic approach) rather than seeking to understand possible social or environmental factors that may be leading to an increase in its incidence



The Social vs. Biological View of Illness



Does Increased Expenditure on Science & Technology Necessarily Improve Health?

  • The increasing cost of current health care is a pressing issue

  • US spends 12% of its national output on health care vs about 7% for other advanced nations

  • Intense use of technology is the principle difference

  • Contrast Japan with highest life expectancy in the world (1st heart transplant only occurred 1993)



Iatrogenic--Medical Induced--Illness

  • 1956 to 1962, 10,000 children born with severe malformations from thalidomide

  • Antibiotic resistance

  • As many as 2% of all cancers in the US might be due to radiation from CT scans (New England Journal of Medicine, 2007)



Medical Negligence-New England Journal of Medicine (1991)

  • 3.7 % of all hospital stays include some physician error

  • 100,000 adverse effects, over 27,000 with negligence, among 2,670,00 patients from NY hospitals

  • 6300 people permanently impaired, 13,400 died

  • Possibly 1.3 million American patients suffer an adverse effect, 100,000 die each year

  • One estimate is that avoidable medical injuries take twice as many lives as highway accidents in US



Neil Postman’s Criticisms of Scientific Medicine

  • Technology is not a neutral element, but always has both good and bad effects in normal use

  • For example, use of technologies can create “imperatives” or “dependencies” (entrenched ways of thinking and acting) that are reinforced through complex social systems, such as when reliance on machines and tests leads doctors to ignore skills of looking, touching & listening



Two Main Types of Criticism

    1. Religious/Spiritual/Holist Critics: Reject that Empiricism is the only legitimate way of gaining knowledge and reject Reductionism (the idea that knowledge of parts is enough)

    2. Technological Skeptics: Reject the unquestioning faith many people (including practitioners) put on technology today, and the reliance on technology and technical methods that has come to predominate in medicine



Projection Theories of Religious Experience

The Naturalistic Option

  • Naturalism: The belief that the universe is an entirely natural phenomenon, with no supernatural elements

  • Naturalists (such as Dawkins) believe that there is a potential scientific explanation for everything

  • Eg. Consciousness and “the soul” will eventually be explained completely in terms of the operation of the brain (neurons)



Philosophical Monism

  • Dawkins is a philosophical monist

  • Monists are believers in the philosophical theory of “materialism”

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