This paper introduces parts of Jürgen Habermas' theory of communication in an attempt to understand how meaning is coded in patient-physician communication. By having a closer look at how patients and physicians make assertions with their utterances, light will be shed on difficult aspects of reaching understanding in the clinical encounter. Habermas' theory will be used to differentiate assertions into validity claims referring to truth, truthfulness and rightness. An analysis of hypothetical physician-replies to a patient suffering from back pains will substantiate the necessity for such a theory.
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The corresponding record at NLM can be accessed at https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15446277