Epistemic Humility and Medical Practice: Translating Epistemic Categories into Ethical Obligations

Physicians and other medical practitioners make untold numbers of judgments about patient care on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. These judgments fall along a number of spectrums, from the mundane to the tragic, from the obvious to the challenging. Under the rubric of evidence-based medicine, these judgments will be informed by the robust conclusions of medical research. In the ideal circumstance, medical research makes the best decision obvious to the trained professional. Even when practice approximates this ideal, it does so unevenly. Judgments in medical practice are always accompanied by uncertainty, and this uncertainty is a fickle companion—constant in its presence but inconstant in its expression. This feature of medical judgments gives rise to the moral responsibility of medical practitioners to be epistemically humble. This requires the recognition and communication of the uncertainty that accompanies their judgment as well as a commitment to avoiding intuitive innovations
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1093/jmp/jhr054
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 22,660
External links
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library
References found in this work BETA

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA
A. G. Kennedy (2013). Differential Diagnosis and the Suspension of Judgment. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 38 (5):487-500.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Alan G. Johnson (2006). Making Sense of Medical Ethics: A Hands-on Guide. Distributed in the U.S.A. By Oxford University Press.
Michael H. Kottow (1999). Theoretical Aids in Teaching Medical Ethics. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 2 (3):225-229.
Dan C. English (2005). Moral Obligations of Patients: A Clinical View. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 30 (2):139 – 152.
Ingemar Nordin (1999). The Limits of Medical Practice. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 20 (2):105-123.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

366 ( #5,763 of 1,938,818 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

97 ( #2,870 of 1,938,818 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.