Jonathan Sholl

Université de Bordeaux
  •  91
    Putting phenomenology in its place: some limits of a phenomenology of medicine
    Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 36 (6): 391-410. 2015.
    Several philosophers have recently argued that phenomenology is well-suited to help understand the concepts of health, disease, and illness. The general claim is that by better analysing how illness appears to or is experienced by ill individuals—incorporating the first-person perspective—some limitations of what is seen as the currently dominant third-person or ‘naturalistic’ approaches to understand health and disease can be overcome. In this article, after discussing some of the main insights…Read more
  •  64
    The muddle of medicalization: pathologizing or medicalizing?
    Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 38 (4): 265-278. 2017.
    Medicalization appears to be an issue that is both ubiquitous and unquestionably problematic as it seems to signal at once a social and existential threat. This perception of medicalization, however, is nothing new. Since the first main writings in the 1960s and 1970s, it has consistently been used to describe inappropriate or abusive instances of medical authority. Yet, while this standard approach claims that medicalization is a growing problem, it assumes that there is simply one “medical mod…Read more
  •  63
    Thought and Repetition in Bergson and Deleuze
    Deleuze and Guatarri Studies 6 (4): 544-563. 2012.
    This essay explores the relation between repetition and thought in Bergson and Deleuze. In Bergson, this relation is seen in the method of intuition by which thought is made to think in time and in the ‘rhythms’ at work in how intuition is a contact with time or life, urging conceptual precision. This framework is used to clarify Deleuze's thought without image as that contingent encounter with the persistent forces of life that demand the perseverance of thought. Far from stressing difference a…Read more
  •  48
    Can aging research generate a theory of health?
    History and Philosophy of the Life Sciences 43 (2): 1-26. 2021.
    While aging research and policy aim to promote ‘health’ at all ages, there remains no convincing explanation of what this ‘health’ is. In this paper, I investigate whether we can find, implicit within the sciences of aging, a way to know what health is and how to measure it, i.e. a theory of health. To answer this, I start from scientific descriptions of aging and its modulators and then try to develop some generalizations about ‘health’ implicit within this research. After discussing some of th…Read more
  •  37
    While philosophers of science have marginally discussed concepts such as ‘nutrient’, ‘naturalness’, ‘food’, or the ‘molecularization’ of nutrition, they have yet to seriously engage with the nutrition sciences. In this paper, I offer one way to begin this engagement by investigating conceptual challenges facing the burgeoning field of nutritional ecology and the question of how organisms construct a ‘balanced’ diet. To provide clarity, I propose the distinction between nutrient balance as a prop…Read more
  •  34
    Who’s afraid of nutritionism?
    with David Raubenheimer
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. forthcoming.
    Various scientists and philosophers have heavily criticized what they see as problematic forms of ‘nutritional reductionism’ or ‘nutritionism’ whereby studying food–health interactions at the level of isolated food components produces largely misguided science and misleading interpretations. However, the exact target of these diverse criticisms remains elusive, and its implications are overstated, which may hinder scientific understanding. To better identify the types of flaws supposedly hinderi…Read more
  •  25
    This essay discusses four key criticisms recently leveled against the main attempts to use conceptual analysis to understand health and disease. First, it examines the weaknesses of these attempts and suggests a better way to proceed. Next, it briefly discusses another disease debate concerning pathological mechanisms and suggests that this approach could be more fruitful than that of conceptual analysis. The final section demonstrates how Georges Canguilhem's biological philosophy of disease av…Read more
  •  19
    Evolution and Normativity
    Dissertation, KU Leuven. 2014.
    Defining the concepts of health and disease has proved rather difficult and many philosophers of medicine have simply concluded that we would be better off giving up on such endeavors. I feel that this view is misguided mainly because it seems to rest on a rather inadequate understanding of how philosophers use biology to clarify medical concepts. While some philosophers appeal to biology so as to clarify what we mean by the concepts of health and disease, others attempt to use biology to …Read more
  •  15
    Redrawing therapeutic boundaries: microbiota and cancer
    with Gregory Sepich-Poore, Rob Knight, and Thomas Pradeu
    Trends in Cancer 8 (2): 87-97. 2022.
    The unexpected roles of the microbiota in cancer challenge explanations of carcinogenesis that focus on tumor-intrinsic properties. Most tumors contain bacteria and viruses, and the host’s proximal and distal microbiota influence both cancer incidence and therapeutic responsiveness. Continuing the history of cancer–microbe research, these findings raise a key question: to what extent is the microbiota relevant for clinical oncology? We approach this by critically evaluating three issues: how the…Read more
  •  15
    One of the key criticisms of understanding health in terms of adaptation to one’s environment is that medical judgments should be able to apply across environments. If we say that a condition is pathological ‘for person X in environment E’, then we quickly run into problems of desirability and social values. However, many key concepts in biology entail an inability to separate the organism from its environment. In other words, it is precisely by referring to ‘organism X in environment E’ that we…Read more
  •  12
    Chapter 25. Harmless Dysfunctions and the Problem of Normal Variation
    with Andreas De Block and Jonathan Scholl
    In Luc Faucher & Denis Forest (eds.), Defining Mental Disorders: Jerome Wakefield and his Critics, Mit Press. pp. 495-510. 2021.
    In one of his key publications on the harmful dysfunction analysis of mental disorder (HDA), Jerome Wakefield acknowledged that he has “explored the value element in disorder less thoroughly than the factual element. This is in part because the factual component poses more of a problem for inferences about disorder and in part because the nature of values is such that it requires separate consideration” (Wakefield 1992, 384). More than twenty years have passed since this remark, and yet a thorou…Read more
  •  8
    Biomarkers of Health and Healthy Ageing from the Outside-In
    with Suresh Rattan
    In Alexey Moskalev (ed.), Biomarkers of Human Aging, Springer. pp. 37-46. 2019.
    Understanding the phenomenon of health is crucial for ageing research since there is often an implicit view on what constitutes health and how to measure it. We provide some reflections on how we might better understand and measure health, discuss the basic biological principles of survival, ageing, age-related diseases and eventual death, and end by tying these ideas together to rethink the nature of and implications for healthy ageing. We defend a more positive view on health understood in ter…Read more
  •  8
    Health in Philosophy: Definitions Abound but a Theory Awaits
    In Jonathan Sholl & Suresh I. S. Rattan (eds.), Explaining Health Across the Sciences, Springer Nature. pp. 79-95. 2020.
    Philosophers of medicine have long debated the possibility of a/the definition of health, but they have yet to fully reflect on the intriguing observation that there is still no theory of health within the medical sciences similar to general theories in other sciences. In this chapter, I provide some reasons for why this lack persists and why philosophers have not been particularly helpful or even interested in filling it. After clarifying why such a theory could be useful, I discuss five genera…Read more
  •  6
    There is a broad consensus in nutritional-microbiota research that high-fat (HF) diets are harmful to human health, at least in part through their modulation of the gut microbiota. However, various studies also support the inherent flexibility of the human gut and our microbiota’s ability to adapt to a variety of food sources, suggesting a more nuanced picture. In this article, we first discuss some problems facing basic translational research and provide a different framework for thinking about…Read more
  •  5
    How is ‘Health’ Explained Across the Sciences? Conclusions and Recapitulation
    with Suresh Rattan
    In Jonathan Sholl & Suresh I. S. Rattan (eds.), Explaining Health Across the Sciences, Springer Nature. pp. 541-549. 2020.
    In this concluding chapter, we gather the various contributions of this volume and attempt to extract some of the many key insights and challenges raised when it comes to the project of explaining health across the sciences. These insights were distilled down into a selection of the central concepts and issues defended or discussed by the authors, and were organized into a table to see, at a glance, where the attention was given. Reflecting on these insights will go some way towards addressing t…Read more
  •  5
    Explaining Health Across the Sciences (edited book)
    with Suresh I. S. Rattan
    Springer Nature. 2020.
    This edited volume aims to better understand the multifaceted phenomenon we call health. Going beyond simple views of health as the absence of disease or as complete well-being, this book unites scientists and philosophers. The contributions clarify the links between health and adaptation, robustness, resilience, or dynamic homeostasis, and discuss how to achieve health and healthy aging through practices such as hormesis. The book is divided into three parts and a conclusion: the first part exp…Read more
  •  5
    The Sciences of Healthy Aging Await a Theory of Health
    Biogerontology 21 (3): 399-409. 2020.
    Debates in fields studying the biological aspects of aging and longevity, such as biogerontology, are often split between ‘anti-aging’ approaches aimed largely at treating diseases and those focusing more on maintaining, promoting, and even enhancing health. However, it is far from clear what this ‘health’ is that would be maintained, promoted, or enhanced. Interestingly, what few have yet to fully reflect on is that there is still no theory of health within the health or aging sciences that wou…Read more
  • Taking a Naturalistic Turn in the Health and Disease Debate
    Teorema: International Journal of Philosophy (1): 91-109. 2021.
    We situate the well-trodden debate about defining health and disease within the project of a metaphysics of science and its aim to work with and contribute to science. We make use of Guay and Pradeu’s ‘metaphysical box’ to reframe this debate, showing what is at stake in recent attempts to move beyond it, revealing unforeseen points of agreement and disagreement among new and old positions, and producing new questions that may lead to progress. We then discuss the implications of the two-way ben…Read more