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The Holistic Claims of the Biopsychosocial Conception of WHO's International Classification of Functioning, Disability, and Health (ICF)

A Conceptual Analysis on the Basis of a Pluralistic-Holistic Ontology and Multidimensional View of the Human being


Solli, Hans Magnus; Da Silva, Antonio Barbosa


Society for Health and Human Values (SHHV)


The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 2012, Volume 37 (Number 3), Seite 277-294, Cary, NC: Oxford University Press, ISSN: 0360-5310 (Print); 1744-5019 (Online)




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The International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF), designed by the WHO, attempts to provide a holistic model of functioning and disability by integrating a medical model with a social one. The aim of this article is to analyze the ICF's claim to holism.

The following components of the ICF's complexity are analyzed:
(1) health condition,
(2) body functions and structures,
(3) activity,
(4) participation,
(5) environmental factors,
(6) personal factors, and
(7) health.

Although the ICF claims to be holistic, it presupposes a monistic materialistic ontology.

We indicate some limitations of this ontology, proposing instead:
(a) a pluralistic-holistic ontology (PHO) and
(b) a multidimensional view of the human being, with individual and environmental aspects, in relation to three levels of reality implied by the PHO.

For the ICF to attain its holistic claim, the interactions between its components should be based on (a) and (b).

Weitere Informationen:

Informationen in der ICF:


Zeitschriftenbeitrag / Online-Publikation


The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy

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Informationsstand: 31.05.2012

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