Elife 2019 Apr 17;8. Epub 2019 Apr 17.
Department of Philosophy, Brandon University, Brandon, Canada.
Advances in microbiomics have changed the way in which many researchers think about health and disease. These changes have also raised a number of philosophical questions around these topics, such as the types of living systems to which these concepts can be applied. Here, I discuss the human microbiome from two perspectives: the first treats the microbiome as part of a larger system that includes the human; the second treats the microbiome as an independent ecosystem that provides services to humans. Drawing on the philosophy of medicine and ecology, I explore two questions: i) how can we make sense of disease and dysfunction in these two perspectives? ii) are these two perspectives complimentary or do they compete with each other?