Medical Nihilism: A Conversation With Jacob Stegenga


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Our guest on this podcast is Jacob Stegenga, the author of Care and Cure and Medical NihilismWe discuss the effectiveness of medical interventions, the relationship between philosophers and practitioners, how to deal with complexity, the nature of sexual desire, and much more.

In this episode: 

How do doctors and other medical professionals respond to the argument for medical nihilism? (2:45) — Issues of publication bias and replication crisis: parallels between animal cognition research and medical research (7:00) — Are there examples of “gentle medicine” being used successfully in the health care system? (8:30) — How do the institutional motives and incentives for excessive intervention affect physicians’ behavior? (10:45) — How does an ordinary person know when, or when not, to trust the experts? (14:00) — Differentiating between simple and complex causes of disease (viruses & bacteria, vs. depression or schizophrenia; 17:45) — With complex conditions, could it ever be worth trying interventions that don’t seem to “make sense”? (21:00) — Current research on the philosophy of sexual desire: Is there a nature to sexual desire? What about social and cultural causes? (25:00) — Is sexual desire an individual or social phenomenon? (30:00) — Understanding the sexual desires of others through philosophy, literature and empirical science (34:15) — Current and future projects: formal logic in philosophy of science, and applications in society (37:30)