Published online by Cambridge University Press: 04 February 2021
Spectacular progress, both intellectual and material, has been achieved through the Enlightenment notion of the centrality of the individual and the supremacy of science and technology in advancing health and healthcare practices. The modern Western belief system and its frames for global thinking that have now become powerful worldwide are succinctly characterized by an individualistic, self-determining, and rights-bearing concept of being; an epistemological framework that centers on abstract thinking, objectivity in observation, logical reasoning processes, verifiable knowledge, and a positivist version of the scientific method; and moral and political values of autonomy supportive of individual rights. Scientific and technological progress and diverse socioeconomic systems contributed to fostering great “accelerations” in the scale of production, consumption, communication, and transportation that in particular since 1945 have improved the duration and quality of life for many people.
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