Technology has come to play a profound role in medicine since the middle of the 19th century, and many scholars have analysed the role of technology in medicine. Parallel to this development there has been a comprehensive debate on the concept of disease. This article combines these fields and investigates the influence of technology on the concept of disease. With reference to the literature it tries to elaborate an explicit account of the constitutive role of technology in relation to the concept of disease. It will be argued that technology constitutes the concept of disease in three profound ways. Firstly, technology provides the physiological, biochemical, and biomolecular entities that are applied in defining diseases. Secondly, it establishes the way we try to gain knowledge of disease and the way we recognise disease in practice. Technology constitutes the signs, markers and end points that define disease entities and it strongly influences the explanatory models of disease as well as medical taxonomy. Thirdly, technology establishes how we act towards disease: thorough diagnosis and treatment technology establishes the actions that constitute the concept of disease. Altogether, this constitutive technological influence on the concept of disease is considered as a technological invention of disease.
- concept of disease
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Bjørn Hofmann is a Research Fellow at the University of Oslo, Norway.