In this paper I will argue that Aristotelian accounts of disease cannot provide us with an adequate descriptive account of our concept of disease. In other words, they fail to classify conditions as either diseases, or non-diseases, in a way that is consistent with commonplace intuitions. This being said, Aristotelian accounts of disease are not worthless. Aristotelian approaches cannot offer a decent descriptive account of our concept of disease, but they do offer resources for improving on the ways in which we think about the harms that afflict human beings. While they cannot offer an account of ‘disease’ they can offer an account of ‘harm’-and this it turns out, is ultimately of greater importance.
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, Philosophical Papers, 36 (3), 2007, © Informa Plc