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The Roots of BioethicsHealth, Progress, Technology, Death$
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Daniel Callahan

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199931378

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199931378.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 September 2021

The WHO Definition of “Health”

The WHO Definition of “Health”

(p.62) 5 The WHO Definition of “Health”
The Roots of Bioethics

Daniel Callahan

Oxford University Press

The 1947 World Health Organization definition of health, encompassing not just physical health but complete social well-being, has been widely criticized. The leading objections are that such a definition turns all of human life and its miseries, political or economic, into health problems, including that of world peace. It would no less seem to place physicians in the role of gate keepers to that kind of ideological hegemony. Nonetheless, there is still something to be said for that definition. Health encompasses more than physical well-being. It is a necessary ingredient for the pursuit of other human goods (even if it is possible for sick people to continuing to function and even to be reasonably happy). The challenge is to find a way to encompass the insight that health has a broad role in our lives and society without exaggerating its importance, that of tending to reduce all human problems to health issues, thus making health either an almost meaningless concept or a tyrannical one.

Keywords:   health, who, body, self, ideology, illness

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