Because “evidence” is at issue in evidence-based medicine (EBM), the critical responses to the movement have taken up themes from post-positivist philosophy of science to demonstrate the untenability of the objectivist account of evidence. While these post-positivist critiques seem largely correct, I propose that when they focus their analyses on what counts as evidence, the critics miss important and desirable pragmatic features of the evidence-based approach. This article redirects critical attention toward EBM’s rigid hierarchy of evidence as the culprit of (...) its objectionable epistemic practices. It reframes the EBM discourse in light of a distinction between objectivist and pragmatic epistemology, which allows for a more nuanced analysis of EBM than previously offered: one that is not either/or in its evaluation of the decision-making technology as either iconoclastic or creedal. -/- . (shrink)
The evidence-based medicine (EBM) movement is touted as a new paradigm in medical education and practice, a description that carries with it an enthusiasm for science that has not been seen since logical positivism ﬂourished (circa 1920–1950). At the same time, the term ‘‘evidence-based medicine’’ has a ring of obviousness to it, as few physicians, one suspects, would claim that they do not attempt to base their clinical decision-making on available evidence. However, the apparent obviousness of EBM can and should (...) be challenged on the grounds of how ‘evidence’ has been problematised in the philosophy of science. EBM enthusiasm, it follows, ought to be tempered. The post-positivist, feminist, and phenomenological philosophies of science that are examined in this paper contest the seemingly unproblematic nature of evidence that underlies EBM by emphasizing different features of the social nature of science. The appeal to the authority of evidence that characterizes evidence-based practices does not increase objectivity but rather obscures the subjective elements that inescapably enter all forms of human inquiry. The seeming common sense of EBM only occurs because of its assumed removal from the social context of medical practice. In the current age where the institutional power of medicine is suspect, a model that represents biomedicine as politically disinterested or merely scientiﬁc should give pause. (shrink)
In accordance with the critical women’s health literature recounting the ways that women are encouraged to submit themselves to various sorts of health “imperatives”, I investigate the messages tacitly conveyed to women in “campaigns for the cure” and breast cancer awareness efforts, which, I argue, overemphasizes a “positive attitude”, healthy lifestyle, and cure rather than prevention of this life-threatening disease. I challenge that the message of hope pervading breast cancer discourse silences the despair felt by many women, furthers a tacit (...) blaming for disease infliction via a rhetoric of personal responsibility, underemphasizes other cogent health determinants like environmental toxicity, and undermines legitimate critiques of current biomedical practices like widespread mammography. While finding a cure for breast cancer is a laudable and worthwhile healthcare goal that can understandably be shared by women’s health activists, corporate sponsors, and the medical community, this paper resists the current formation of campaigns for the cure and “pink ribbon activism” in general. (shrink)
The precondition of any feminist politics – a usable category of ‘woman’ – has proved to be difﬁcult to construct, even proposed to be impossible, given the ‘problem of exclusion’. This is the inevitable exclusion of at least some women, as their lives or experiences do not ﬁt into the necessary and sufﬁcient condition(s) that denotes group membership. In this paper, I propose that the problem of exclusion arises not because of inappropriate category membership criteria, but because of the presumption (...) that categories can only be organised by identity relations or shared properties among their members. This criterion of sameness as well as the characterisation of this exclusion as essentialism attests to a metaphysics that is not conducive to resistance and liberatory projects. Following a strain of hybrid thinking in feminist and post-colonial theory, I outline an alternative pluralist logic that confronts oppressive binaries that impede theory work in gender, sexuality, and race theory, and limit political action and resistance. The problem of exclusion is neither irresolvable nor is it essentialism. Instead it is a denial of subjectivity due to pseudodualistic self/Other dichotomies that can be resisted by adopting a new categorial logic. While this paper focuses on the speciﬁc problem of formulating a category of ‘woman’, it has implications for other areas of gender, critical race, and postcolonial theory. Rather than working toward an inclusive category founded on sameness, theorists need to develop independent and positive categories grounded in difference. Our current categorial logic does not permit such a project, and therefore a new metaphysics must be adopted. (shrink)
Medical discourse currently manages two broad visionary movements: "evidence-based medicine," the effort to make clinical medicine more responsive to the medical research, and "patient-centered care," the platform for a more humane health-care encounter. There have been strong calls to synthesize the two as "evidence-based patient-centred care" (Lacy and Backer 2008; see also Borgmeyer 2005; Baumann, Lewis, and Gutterman 2007; Krahn and Naglie 2008), yet many question the compatibility of the two competing programs.This might sound to some like a new version (...) of an old story. Despite the fact that evidence-based medicine and patient-centered care are relatively new programs, the story of their oppositional .. (shrink)
Because few would object to evidence-based medicine’s (EBM) principal task of basing medical decisionmaking on the most judicious and up-to-date evidence, the debate over this prolific movement may seem puzzling. Who, one may ask, could be against evidence (Carr-Hill, 2006)? Yet this question belies the sophistication of the evidence-based movement. This chapter presents the evidence-based approach as a socio-medical phenomenon and seeks to explain and negotiate the points of disagreement between supporters and detractors. This is done by casting EBM as (...) more than the simple application of research findings to clinical care and improved health outcomes, but rather an umbrella term that harnesses a specific set of pedagogical objectives (some rather radical) under a name that makes it difficult to argue against. (shrink)
As the quality movement in health care now enters its fourth decade, the language of quality is ubiquitous. Practitioners, organizations, and government agencies alike vociferously testify their commitments to quality and accept numerous forms of governance aimed at improving quality of care. Remarkably, the powerful phrase ‘‘quality of care’’ is rarely defined in the health care literature. Instead it operates as an accepted and assumed goal worth pursuing. The status of evidence-based medicine, for instance, hinges on its ability to improve (...) quality of care, and efforts are made by both proponents and detractors to unpack the contents and outcomes of evidence-based practice while the contents of ‘‘quality of care’’ are presumed to be understood. Because the goals of medicine are far from obvious, this paper investigates the neglected term, ‘‘quality of care,’’ in an effort to understand what it is that health care practices are so uncritically assumed to be striving for. Finding lack of consensus on the terminology in the quality literature, I propose that the term operates rhetorically by way of persuasive appeal (and lack of descriptive meaning). Unsatisfied that ‘‘quality of care’’ operates as a mere buzzword in morally contentious debates over resource allocation and duties of care, I implore health care communities to go beyond mere commitments to quality and, instead, to focus attention on the difficult task of specifying what counts as quality care within an economically constrained health care system. (shrink)
Many business practices focus on maximizing material affluence, or wealth, despite the fact that a growing empirical literature casts doubt on whether money can buy happiness. We therefore propose that businesses consider the possibility of "time affluence" as an alternative model for improving employee well-being and ethical business practice. Across four studies, results consistently showed that, even after controlling for material affluence, the experience of time affluence was positively related to subjective well-being. Studies 3 and 4 further demonstrated that the (...) experience of mindàulness and the satisfaction of psychological needs partially mediated the positive associations between time affluence and well-being. Future research directions and implications for ethical business practices are discussed. (shrink)
We live in an age of evidence-based healthcare, where the concept of evidence has been avidly and often uncritically embraced as a symbol of legitimacy, truth, and justice. By letting the evidence dictate healthcare decision making from the bedside to the policy level, the normative claims that inform decision making appear to be negotiated fairly—without subjectivity, prejudice, or bias. Thus, the term ‘‘evidence-based’’ is typically read in the health sciences as the empirically adequate standard of reasonable practice and a means (...) for increasing certainty. Supporters believe that evidence-based medicine (EBM) can introduce rational order to the deliberative processes of healthcare decision making. It is perhaps puzzling, then, to come across critical perspectives (typically arising from the humanities and the more theory-driven social sciences) raising concerns about a seeming technogovernance being introduced by this deferral to the evidence where power interests can be obfuscated by way of technical resolve. The critics holding this minority view argue that technological solutions to problems of knowledge and practice cannot replace medicine’s normative content. Against EBM’s democratic leanings toward transparency and accountability, medical criteria alone cannot decide valueladen ethically charged decisions. This paper attempts to explain and evaluate this important debate in the philosophy of medicine, focusing specifically on the dispute over 'evidence-based women's health'. (shrink)
This paper examines the conclusions that one must draw from the finding that there are values in science. The value-ladenness of scientific claims puts the nature and role of empirical evidence into question, as seen in recent discussions in the philosophy of medicine regarding evidence-based medicine and feminist science studies, which maintains the normativity of its feminist claims. Within the critical literature and debates surrounding evidence-based medicine (EBM), one finds a championing of the lessons learned from post-positivist science studies: the (...) evidence-based effort to ground medical decision-making in the most rigorous sources of scientific evidence obscures the social values that necessarily enter into all decision-making contexts, the complex social context of clinical practice being no exception. The critics of EBM claim that to try to derive a formal methodology governed by pre-established rules, guidelines, and hierarchies of information misplaces the contextual and social features of biomedical knowledge and practice, thereby obscuring the power interests that so problematically dictate large factions of biomedical research and practice. Yet possible relativist implications follow from this finding, and we find that the EBM critics amply criticize EBM’s tacit theory of evidence, but then fail to formulate a constructive alternative theory of evidence within this fact-value interplay. After overviewing some such criticisms of evidence-based medicine, I turn to contemporary critical science studies, especially the feminist empiricism of Lynn Hankinson Nelson and Helen Longino, for workable alternative theories of evidence within a framework of normative scientific claims. I will suggest these theories fail to guide medical decision-making because of some undesirable consequences of Quinean fact-value holism: the denial that our values have logical content and are therefore not empirically examinable relativises even these nuanced conceptions of evidence. A naturalized look at how facts and values actually interact in medical decision-making suggests that this fact/value holism is not realistic. I provide an illustrative example of a physician devising a treatment recommendation for a patient to demonstrate that in practice, facts and values intermingle in the decision-making process without indeterminacy and subsequent appeals to moral and political frameworks, as feminist empiricism suggests. In the end, value-laden evidence can retain its adjudicative force and normativity. (shrink)
This book brings together new work by some of the foremost writers in the health care law arena. It presents exciting new insights,drawing on feminist theory and methodology to further our understanding of health care law. Whilst the book makes a real contribution to both feminist debates and the analysis of this area of law, it is also accessible to the undergraduate student who is approaching this area of legal scholarship and feminist jurisprudence for the first time. Its focus is (...) not merely on those issues which have traditionally excited feminist attention, but also includes those subjects which have proved of less apparent interest such as confidentiality, medical research, medical negligence and professional discipline. (shrink)
Observations on patients who lost visual imagery after brain damage call into question the notion that the knowledge subserving visual imagery is “tacit.” Dissociations between deficient imagery and preserved recognition of objects suggest that imagery is exclusively based on explicit knowledge, whereas retrieval of “tacit” visual knowledge is bound to the presence of the object and the task of recognizing it.
Background Regionalised models of health care delivery have important implications for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses yet the ethical issues surrounding disability and regionalisation have not yet been explored. Although there is ethics-related research into disability and chronic illness, studies of regionalisation experiences, and research directed at improving health systems for these patient populations, to our knowledge these streams of research have not been brought together. Using the Canadian province of Ontario as a case study, we address this gap (...) by examining the ethics of regionalisation and the implications for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. The critical success factors we provide have broad applicability for guiding and/or evaluating new and existing regionalised health care strategies. Discussion Ontario is in the process of implementing fourteen Local Health Integration Networks (LHINs). The implementation of the LHINs provides a rare opportunity to address systematically the unmet diverse care needs of people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. The core of this paper provides a series of composite case vignettes illustrating integration opportunities relevant to these populations, namely: (i) rehabilitation and services for people with disabilities; (ii) chronic illness and cancer care; (iii) senior's health; (iv) community support services; (v) children's health; (vi) health promotion; and (vii) mental health and addiction services. For each vignette, we interpret the governing principles developed by the LHINs – equitable access based on patient need, preserving patient choice, responsiveness to local population health needs, shared accountability and patient-centred care – and describe how they apply. We then offer critical success factors to guide the LHINs in upholding these principles in response to the needs of people with disabilities and chronic illnesses. Summary This paper aims to bridge an important gap in the literature by examining the ethics of a new regionalisation strategy with a focus on the implications for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses across multiple sites of care. While Ontario is used as a case study to contextualize our discussion, the issues we identify, the ethical principles we apply, and the critical success factors we provide have broader applicability for guiding and evaluating the development of – or revisions to – a regionalised health care strategy. (shrink)
Biomedical ethics does not lend itself to easy categorisation as either a 'theoretical' or a 'practical' enterprise because inquiry into the quandaries of morality requires both situational and 'translocal' perspectives. These types of investigation bring into question the legitimacy of the theory/practice divide that has dominated intellectual thought since antiquity. This division hinders the development of bioethics by fostering internal dispute within the discipline regarding appropriate methodology and the practice of clinical ethics. In this thesis, I argue that much of (...) these disciplinary disjunctions are due to an undue labeling of bioethics as either 'applied ethics' or 'practical ethics', and a failure to recognise the intricate way in which theory and practice inform each other and are integral and interrelated parts of moral deliberation. I argue for an integration of the theory and practice of bioethics. (shrink)
The paper is an attempt to review the basis for the claim that physicians have a professional obligation to treat AIDS patients. Considered are the historical record, two professional codes of ethics, and several recent articles. The paper concludes that the arguments considered, which attempt to support the claim that physicians have an obligation to treat, fail. It is suggested, rather, that common humanity, which physicians share with those who suffer from AIDS, ought to be the basis for engaging in (...) the care of AIDS patients. (shrink)
Since 1991, sperm donors in the UK have had the legal right to withdraw consent for the use of their sperm in fertility treatment. This has the potential to adversely affect patients. It may mean that previous recipients of a donor’s sperm cannot have further children who are full biological siblings to an existing child, and that embryos created from the donor’s sperm and a patient’s eggs must be destroyed.
It is predicted that the rapid acquisition of new genetic knowledge and related applications during the next decade will have significant implications for virtually all members of society. Currently, most people get exposed to information about genes and genetics only through stories publicized in the media. We sought to understand how individuals in the general population used and understood the concepts of “genetics” and “genes.” During in-depth one-on-one telephone interviews with adults in the United States, we asked questions exploring their (...) basic understanding of these terms, as well as their belief as to the location of genes in the human body. A wide range of responses was received. Despite conversational familiarity with genetic terminology, many noted frustration or were hesitant when trying to answer these questions. In addition, some responses reflected a lack of understanding about basic genetic science that may have significant implications for broader public education measures in genetic literacy, genetic counseling, public health practices, and even routine health care. (shrink)
Under current UK law, an embryo cannot be transferred to a woman's uterus without the consent of both of its genetic parents, that is both of the people from whose gametes the embryo was created. This consent can be withdrawn at any time before the embryo transfer procedure. Withdrawal of consent by one genetic parent can result in the other genetic parent losing the opportunity to have their own genetic children. We argue that offering couples only one type of consent (...) agreement, as happens at present, is too restrictive. An alternative form of agreement, in which one genetic parent agrees to forego the right to future withdrawal of consent, should be available alongside the current form of agreement. Giving couples such a choice will better enable them to store embryos under a consent agreement that is appropriate for their circumstances. Allowing such a choice, with robust procedures in place to ensure the validity of consent, is the best way to respect patient autonomy. (shrink)
Background The increase in empirical methods of research in bioethics over the last two decades is typically perceived as a welcomed broadening of the discipline, with increased integration of social and life scientists into the field and ethics consultants into the clinical setting, however it also represents a loss of confidence in the typical normative and analytic methods of bioethics. Discussion The recent incipiency of "Evidence-Based Ethics" attests to this phenomenon and should be rejected as a solution to the current (...) ambivalence toward the normative resolution of moral problems in a pluralistic society. While "evidence-based" is typically read in medicine and other life and social sciences as the empirically-adequate standard of reasonable practice and a means for increasing certainty, I propose that the evidence-based movement in fact gains consensus by displacing normative discourse with aggregate or statistically-derived empirical evidence as the "bottom line". Therefore, along with wavering on the fact/value distinction, evidence-based ethics threatens bioethics' normative mandate. The appeal of the evidence-based approach is that it offers a means of negotiating the demands of moral pluralism. Rather than appealing to explicit values that are likely not shared by all, "the evidence" is proposed to adjudicate between competing claims. Quantified measures are notably more "neutral" and democratic than liberal markers like "species normal functioning". Yet the positivist notion that claims stand or fall in light of the evidence is untenable; furthermore, the legacy of positivism entails the quieting of empirically non-verifiable (or at least non-falsifiable) considerations like moral claims and judgments. As a result, evidence-based ethics proposes to operate with the implicit normativity that accompanies the production and presentation of all biomedical and scientific facts unchecked. Summary The "empirical turn" in bioethics signals a need for reconsideration of the methods used for moral evaluation and resolution, however the options should not include obscuring normative content by seemingly neutral technical measure. (shrink)
Based on neuropsychological evidence of nonverbal impairment accompanying aphasia, I propose that the neural prerequisites for language acquisition are shared with a range of nonverbal capacities. Their commonality concerns the ability to recognize a limited number of finite elements in manifold perceptual entities and to combine them for constructing manifold entities.
The once animated efforts in medical phenomenology to integrate the art and
science of medicine (or to humanize scientific medicine) have fallen out of philosophical fashion. Yet the current competing medical discourses of evidencebased medicine and patient-centered care suggest that this theoretical endeavor requires renewed attention. In this paper, I attempt to enliven the debate by discussing theoretical weaknesses in the way the “lived body” has operated in the medical phenomenology literature—the problem of the absent body—and highlight how evidence-based medicine has (...) refigured medical phenomenology’s historical nemesis, “biomedicine.” What we now need is a phenomenology of the embodied subject in the age of evidence-based medicine. (shrink)