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Causation and causal selection in the biopsychosocial model of health and disease

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/10/2021
<mark>Journal</mark>European Journal of Analytic Philosophy
Issue number2
Number of pages23
Pages (from-to)5-27
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In The Biopsychosocial Model of Health and Disease, Derek Bolton and Grant Gillett argue that a defensible updated version of the biopsychosocial model requires a metaphysically adequate account of disease causation that can accommodate biological, psychological, and social factors. This present paper offers a philosophical critique of their account of biopsychosocial causation. I argue that their account relies on claims about the normativity and the semantic content of biological information that are metaphysically contentious. Moreover, I suggest that these claims are unnecessary for a defence of biopsychosocial causation, as the roles of multiple and diverse factors in disease causation can be readily accommodated by a more widely accepted and less metaphysically contentious account of causation. I then raise the more general concern that they are misdiagnosing the problem with the traditional version of the biopsychosocial model. The challenge when developing an explanatorily valuable version of the biopsychosocial model, I argue, is not so much providing an adequate account of biopsychosocial causation, but providing an adequate account of causal selection. Finally, I consider how this problem may be solved to arrive at a more explanatorily valuable and clinically useful version of the biopsychosocial model.