Kazem Sadegh-Zadeh     Philosophy of Medicine     HAPM



Kazem Sadegh-Zadeh

Theory: 1970-2012

Clinical work was time-consuming and didn't allow me enough freedom to devote myself to my medical-philosophical problems. I left it and assumed, as of 1972, the position of a research assistant at the institute of Professor Karl Eduard Rothschuh (1908-1984) [History of Medicine] at the University of Münster. He had been one of my academic teachers several years before and had ignited my love for the philosophy of medicine in 1964 when I was a graduate student of medicine and philosophy in Münster.

I started working in "theory of medicine" in his institute as of January 3, 1972. The institute was soon renamed "Institute of Theory and History of Medicine". I did theory, and my colleagues did history, of medicine. What I had been unable to foresee, however, was that unfortunately Rothschuh retired in July 1973. His successor was an inveterate medical historian and Protestant theologian who did neither understand nor like my work because I was an adherent of formal logic and applied it to medicine, whereas he hated and rejected logic. It remained so until his retirement in 1995. It was a difficult time for both of us.

As the only official, lonesome philosopher of medicine in Germany where the term "philosophy" was, and still is, not loved in medicine, I wanted to contribute to the emergence of a scientific community in this field. To this end, I planned in 1974-75 to launch an international journal of the philosophy of medicine. But I was unable to find a publisher for this undertaking. D. Reidel Publishing Company in Dordrecht (Netherlands), which later became Kluwer Academic Publishers, as well as Springer-Verlag rejected my journal proposal. I therefore decided to publish the journal myself. I establisehd the small publishing company Burgverlag in Tecklenburg where I lived and still live, and invested my own money to launch the journal Metamed in March 1977. But it didn't prove successful at all because not enough high-quality submissions came in. D. Reidel Publishing Company asked me in 1979 to transfer the journal to them. I accepted their request, and as of 1980 it was published with them as an international journal under the completed title Metamedicine. Despite the clear definition of this term in my inaugural Editorial, people believed that "metamedicine" was the name of a new, esoteric direction in medicine like homeopathy. For this reason, the journal was renamed Theoretical Medicine in 1983. However, it remained unable to get high-quality submissions. I couldn't identify myself with its low level any longer and abandoned its editorship in 1989. Today it is published by Springer, as the new owner of the former Kluwer, under the title Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics.

As of 1982, I was professor of philosophy of medicine, holding the first chair in this new, emerging field in Germany. Due to my disappointing experience alluded to above and thanks to my knowledge about the higher quality of metamedical studies undertaken in clinical informatics, I tried to motivate scholars within this scientific community to concern themselves with medical-philosophical issues by establishing an international journal entitled Artificial Intelligence in Medicine. Again, I didn't find a publisher for this project. Springer, Elsevier, and Kluwer rejected my journal proposal. And again, I did it myself with Burgverlag. Volume 1 appeared in 1989. One year later, Elsevier asked me to transfer the journal to them. As of 1990, it is published by Elsevier and is currently in its Volume 68 (March 2016).

I have been working since 1970 on the logic, methodology and philosophy of clinical judgment inquiring into how to reduce the amount of misdiagnoses and wrong treatment decisions. My publications were well received in the community of medical artificial intelligence. This experience encouraged me to continue my work in the analytic philosophy of medicine. A sample output is The Handbook.