By Antony Flew (auth.)
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Additional resources for Crime or Disease?
If all attempts to develop a suitably objective distinction parallel to the distinction between physical health and physical disease have indeed collapsed, then the true moral is not that we are entitled to assert of anything we choose that it is always a symptom of mental disorder. It is rather that it is not legitimate to try to employ the expression 'mental disease' in any sense presupposing the subsistence of a strong and extensive analogy between such mental disease and physical disease. Although, as we have just this moment seen, this is not what Lady Wootton actually says here, it is nevertheless a position which she might be content to hold.
A woman can feel very ill during pregnancy, and may be more or less incapacitated by her condition. Nor in this event will things be made easier for her by the fact that these misfortunes are among those, like seasickness, to which other people who do not suffer similarly are apt to be unsympathetic. Yet none of this apparently is sufficient to warrant the diagnosis 'disease' when the condition itself and the culminating performance are both so indisputably instances of biologically normal functioning.
The example is inept, yet for that very reason it can be instructive. It would not surely be correct to describe the condition of the girl's feet- whether before or after the binding treatment - as diseased. Certainly that treatment made them unfit for either labour in the fields or table-tennis contests. Unfitness however can result from congenital defect or from mutilation as well as from disease. We have, without prejudice to any disputes about the ideals involved, to insist that this is not an instance of causing or curing disease.
Crime or Disease? by Antony Flew (auth.)