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)
In this paper, we argue for a particular informative and unified analysis of normative reasons. According to this analysis, a fact F is a reason to act in a certain way just in case it is evidence that one ought to act in that way. Similarly, F is a reason to believe a certain proposition just in case it is evidence for the truth of this proposition. Putting the relatively uncontroversial claim about reasons for belief to one side, (...) we present several arguments in favor of our analysis of reasons for action. We then turn to consider a series of objections to the analysis. We conclude that there are good reasons to accept the analysis and that the objections do not succeed. (shrink)
I want to discuss a problem that arises when you try to combine an attractive account of what constitutes evidence with an independently plausible account of the kind of access we have to our evidence. According to E = K, our evidence consists of what we know. According to the principle of armchair access, if a proposition is part of our evidence we ought to be able to know that this proposition is part of our (...) class='Hi'>evidence ‘from the armchair’. Combined, these claims entail that we can have armchair knowledge of the external world. Because it seems that the principle of armchair access is supported by a widely shared intuition about epistemic rationality, it seems we ought to embrace an internalist conception of evidence. I shall argue that this response is mistaken. Because externalism about evidence can accommodate the relevant intuitions about epistemic rationality, the principle of armchair access is unmotivated. We also have independent reasons for preferring externalism about evidence to the principle of armchair access. (shrink)
In this paper I argue for a version of the Total Evidence view according to which the rational response to disagreement depends upon one's total evidence. I argue that perceptual evidence of a certain kind is significantly weightier than many other types of evidence, including testimonial. Furthermore, what is generally called "The Uniqueness Thesis" is actually a conflation of two distinct principles that I dub "Evidential Uniqueness" and "Rationality Uniqueness." The former principle is likely true but (...) the latter almost certainly false. Seeing why the Rationality Uniqueness fails opens the door to seeing how mutual reasonable disagreement is possible even among those who share the same evidence. (shrink)
Conciliatory views of disagreement maintain that discovering a particular type of disagreement requires that one make doxastic conciliation. In this paper I give a more formal characterization of such a view. After explaining and motivating this view as the correct view regarding the epistemic significance of disagreement, I proceed to defend it from several objections concerning higher-order evidence (evidence about the character of one's evidence) made by Thomas Kelly (2005).
This book is a collection of materials concerned not only with the law of evidence, but also with the logical and rhetorical aspects of proof; the epistemology of evidence as a basis for the proof of disputed facts; and scientific aspects of the subject. The editor also raises issues such as the philosophical basis for the use of evidence.
Many philosophers accept a view according to which intuitions are crucial evidence in philosophy. Recently, Williamson (2004, 2007: ch. 1) has argued that such views are best abandoned because they lead to a psychologistic conception of philosophical evidence that encourages scepticism about the armchair judgements relied upon in philosophy. In this paper I respond to this criticism by showing how the intuition picture can be formulated in such a way that: (i) it is consistent with a wide range (...) of views about not only philosophical evidence but also the nature of evidence in general, including Williamson's famous view that E = K; (ii) it can maintain the central claims about the nature and role of intuitions in philosophy made by proponents of the intuition picture; (iii) it does not collapse into Williamson's own deflationary view of the nature and role of intuitions in philosophy; and (iv) it does not lead to scepticism. (shrink)
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)
Some philosophers have recently defended anti-intellectualism with respect to knowledge and evidence. In this paper, I assess anti-intellectualism about evidence. Proponents of anti-intellectualism generally regard their view as not at all obvious, but nonetheless strongly supported by appeal to our intuitive judgments about whether particular epistemic properties are instantiated in hypothetical cases. Anti-intellectualism is thus taken by its proponents to be a surprising truth. I show that, though peoples’ intuitive judgments about the general issue of whether or not (...) non-epistemic factors make an epistemic difference are often in line with anti-intellectualism, their judgments about whether particular epistemic properties are instantiated in hypothetical cases do not display a pattern that would clearly support anti-intellectualism about evidence. Thus, anti-intellectualism about evidence is not entirely surprising, and intuitive assessments of hypothetical cases do not support its truth. (shrink)
Goldman, though still a reliabilist, has made some recent concessions to evidentialist epistemologies. I agree that reliabilism is most plausible when it incorporates certain evidentialist elements, but I try to minimize the evidentialist component. I argue that fewer beliefs require evidence than Goldman thinks, that Goldman should construe evidential fit in process reliabilist terms, rather than the way he does, and that this process reliabilist understanding of evidence illuminates such important epistemological concepts as propositional justification, ex ante justification, (...) and defeat. (shrink)
How does a particular experience evidence a particular perceptual belief for us? As Alvin Plantinga (Warrant and Proper Function, Oxford University Press, 1993, p. 98) puts it, "[W]hat makes it the case that a particular way of being appeared to--being appeared to greenly, say--is evidence for the proposition that I see something green?" Promising, but unsuccessful, answers cite a reliable connection between our having the experience and the belief's being true, our having good reason to believe in such (...) a connection, the proper functioning of our faculties, and objective epistemic norms. A superior view, developed here, is that our experience of being appeared to greenly evidences for us that something is green because we have learned to identify green objects by experiences of that sort. Our learning to do so amounts to our adopting an epistemic norm directing us to form that belief on the basis of that experience. (shrink)
Introduction -- Foundationalism versus coherentism : a dichotomy disclaimed -- Foundationalism undermined -- Coherentism discomposed -- Foundherentism articulated -- The evidence of the senses : refutations and conjectures -- Naturalism disambiguated -- The evidence against reliabilism -- Revolutionary scientism subverted -- Vulgar pragmatism : an unedifying prospect -- Foundherentism ratified -- Selected essays -- "Know" is just a four-letter word -- Knowledge and propaganda : reflections of an old feminist -- "The ethics of belief" reconsidered -- Epistemology legalized (...) : or, truth, justice, and the American way. (shrink)
I argue that perceptual experience provides us with both phenomenal and factive evidence. To a first approximation, we can understand phenomenal evidence as determined by how our environment sensorily seems to us when we are experiencing. To a first approximation, we can understand factive evidence as necessarily determined by the environment to which we are perceptually related such that the evidence is guaranteed to be an accurate guide to the environment. I argue that the rational source (...) of both phenomenal and factive evidence lies in employing perceptual capacities that we have in virtue of being perceivers. In showing that both kinds of evidence have the same rational source, I provide a unified account of perceptual evidence and its rational source in perceptual experience. (shrink)
If evidence is propositional, is one’s evidence limited to true propositions or might false propositions constitute evidence? In this paper, I consider three recent attempts to show that there can be ‘false evidence,’ and argue that each of these attempts fails. The evidence for the thesis that evidence consists of truths is much stronger than the evidence offered in support of the theoretical assumptions that people have relied on to argue against this thesis. (...) While I shall not defend the view that evidence is propositional, I shall defend the view that any propositional evidence must be true. (shrink)
The Law of Evidence has traditionally been perceived as a dry, highly technical, and mysterious subject. This book argues that problems of evidence in law are closely related to the handling of evidence in other kinds of practical decision-making and other academic disciplines, that it is closely related to common sense and that it is an interesting, lively and accessible subject. These essays develop a readable, coherent historical and theoretical perspective about problems of proof, evidence, and (...) inferential reasoning in law. Although each essay is self-standing, they are woven together to present a sustained argument for a broad inter-disciplinary approach to evidence in litigation, in which the rules of evidence play a subordinate, though significant, role. This revised and enlarged edition includes a revised introduction, the best-known essays in the first edition, and new chapters on narrative and argumentation, teaching evidence, and evidence as a multi-disciplinary subject. (shrink)
What is required for something to be evidence for a hypothesis? In this fascinating, elegantly written work, distinguished philosopher of science Peter Achinstein explores this question, rejecting typical philosophical and statistical theories of evidence. He claims these theories are much too weak to give scientists what they want--a good reason to believe--and, in some cases, they furnish concepts that mistakenly make all evidential claims a priori. Achinstein introduces four concepts of evidence, defines three of them by reference (...) to "potential" evidence, and characterizes the latter using a novel epistemic interpretation of probability. The resulting theory is then applied to philosophical and historical issues. Solutions are provided to the "grue," "ravens," "lottery," and "old-evidence" paradoxes, and to a series of questions. These include whether explanations or predictions furnish more evidential weight, whether individual hypotheses or entire theoretical systems can receive evidential support, what counts as a scientific discovery, and what sort of evidence is required for it. The historical questions include whether Jean Perrin had non-circular evidence for the existence of molecules, what type of evidence J. J. Thomson offered for the existence of the electron, and whether, as is usually supposed, he really discovered the electron. Achinstein proposes answers in terms of the concepts of evidence introduced. As the premier book in the fabulous new series Oxford Studies in Philosophy of Science, this volume is essential for philosophers of science and historians of science, as well as for statisticians, scientists with philosophical interests, and anyone curious about scientific reasoning. (shrink)
Creatures that have different physical realizations than human beings may or may not be conscious. Ned Block’s ‘harder problem of consciousness’ is that naturalistic phenomenal realists have no conception of a rational ground for belief that they have or have not discovered consciousness in such a creature. Drawing on the notion of inference to the best explanation, it appears the arguments to these conclusions beg the question and ignore that explanation may be a guide to discovery. Thus, best explanation can (...) both validate an interpretation of the evidence and lead to the discovery of consciousness. (shrink)
Photographs furnish evidence. This is true in both formal and informal contexts. The use of photographs as legal evidence goes back to the very earliest days of photography, and they have been used in American trials since around the time of the Civil War. Photographs may also serve as historical evidence (for example, about the Civil War). And they serve in informal contexts as evidence about all sorts of things, such as what we and our loved (...) ones looked like in the past. (shrink)
Original and penetrating, this book investigates of the notion of inference from signs, which played a central role in ancient philosophical and scientific method. It examines an important chapter in ancient epistemology: the debates about the nature of evidence and of the inferences based on it--or signs and sign-inferences as they were called in antiquity. As the first comprehensive treatment of this topic, it fills an important gap in the histories of science and philosophy.
Proponents of evidence-based medicine (EBM) provide the “hierarchy of evidence” as a criterion for judging the reliability of therapeutic decisions. EBM's hierarchy places randomized interventional studies (and systematic reviews of such studies) higher in the hierarchy than observational studies, unsystematic clinical experience, and basic science. Recent philosophical work has questioned whether EBM's special emphasis on evidence from randomized interventional studies can be justified. Following the critical literature, and in particular the work of John Worrall, I agree that (...) many of the arguments put forward by advocates of EBM do not justify the ambitious claims that are often made on behalf of randomization. However, in contrast to the recent philosophical work, I argue that a justification for EBM's hierarchy of evidence can be provided. The hierarchy should be viewed as a hierarchy of comparative internal validity. Although this justification is defensible, the claims that EBM's hierarchy substantiates when viewed in this way are considerably more circumscribed than some claims found in the EBM literature. (shrink)
The philosophy of evidence-based medicine -- What is EBM? -- What is good evidence for a clinical decision? -- Ruling out plausible rival hypotheses and confounding factors : a method -- Resolving the paradox of effectiveness : when do observational studies offer the same degree of evidential support as randomized trials? -- Questioning double blinding as a universal methodological virtue of clinical trials : resolving the Philip's paradox -- Placebo controls : problematic and misleading baseline measures of effectiveness (...) -- Questioning the methodological superiority of "placebo" over "active" controlled trials -- Examining the paradox that traditional roles for mechanistic reasoning and expert -- Judgment have been up-ended by EBM -- A qualified defence of the EBM stance on mechanistic reasoning -- Knowledge that versus knowledge how : situating the EBM position on expert clinical judgment -- Moving EBM forward. (shrink)
Throughout his work on the rationality of epistemic dependence, John Hardwig makes the striking observation that he believes many things for which he possesses no evidence (1985, 335; 1991, 693; 1994, 83). While he could imagine collecting for himself the relevant evidence for some of his beliefs, the vastness of the world and constraints of time and individual intellect thwart his ability to gather for himself the evidence for all his beliefs. So for many things he believes (...) what others tell him, as we all do. Epistemic dependence is the responsible choice, he argues, because he can be reasonably sure that those on whom he depends know more about the subject than he does. Epistemic dependence on experts is a smarter bet than epistemic autonomy: after all, Hardwig reasons, “if I were to pursue epistemic autonomy across the board, I would succeed in holding relatively uninformed, unreliable, crude, untested, and therefore irrational beliefs” (1985, 340) [...] In this paper I argue against what I call Hardwig’s no-evidence thesis: that knowledge and belief based on testimony are knowledge and belief for which the knower possesses no evidence. Against the no-evidence thesis, I propose we recognize that layperson B’s good reason to believe that expert A has good reason to believe proposition p constitutes evidence for B for p. I argue that the reasons Hardwig gives for the no-evidence thesis are inconclusive at best; at worst the no-evidence thesis coupled with his recognition of expert interdependence exposes him to recent criticisms by Stella Gaon and Stephen Norris. By rejecting the no-evidence thesis, we can recognize with Hardwig the importance of expert epistemic interdependence while avoiding the paradoxical implications of his position. (shrink)
Now in its fourth edition, Rational Diagnosis and Treatment: Evidence-Based Clinical Decision-Making is a unique book to look at evidence-based medicine and the difficulty of applying evidence from group studies to individual patients._ The book analyses the successive stages of the decision process and deals with topics such as the examination of the patient,_the reliability of clinical data, the logic of diagnosis, the fallacies of uncontrolled therapeutic experience and the need for randomised clinical trials and meta-analyses. It (...) is the main theme of the book that, whenever possible, clinical decisions must be based on the evidence from clinical research, but the authors also explain the pitfalls of such research and the problems involved in applying evidence from groups of patients to the individual patient._ For this new edition, the sections on placebo and meta-analysis and on alternative medicine have been thoroughly updated, and there is more focus on insufficient reporting of harms of interventions. The sections on different research designs describe advantages and limitations, and the increased medicalisation and the effects of cancer screening on health people are noted. A section on academic freedom when clinicians collaborate with industry and ghost authors is added._ This essential reference work integrates the science and statistical approach of evidence-based medicine with the art and humanism of medical practice; distinguishing between data, sets of data, knowledge and wisdom, and their application. Such an intellectually challenging book is ideal for both medical students and doctors who require theoretical and practical clinical skills to help ensure that they apply theory in practice. (shrink)
This paper responds to Achinstein’s criticism of the thesis that the only empirical fact that can affect the truth of an objective evidence claim such as ‘e is evidence for h’ (or ‘e confirms h to degree r’) is the truth of e. It shows that cases involving evidential flaws, which form the basis for Achinstein’s objections to the thesis, can satisfactorily be accounted for by appeal to changes in background information and working assumptions. The paper also argues (...) that the a priori and empirical accounts of evidence are on a par when we consider scientific practice, but that a study of artificial intelligence might serve to differentiate them. (shrink)
In the first part of this paper, I will sketch the main features of traditional models of evidence, indicating idealizations in such models that I regard as doing more harm than good. I will then proceed to elaborate on an alternative model of evidence that is functionalist, complex, dynamic, and contextual, which I will call DYNAMIC EVIDENTIAL FUNCTIONALISM. I will demonstrate its application to an illuminating example of scientific inquiry, and defend it from some likely objections. In the (...) second part, I will use that alternative to solve a variety of classic and contemporary problems in the literature on scientific evidence having to do with the empirical basis of science and the use of evidence in public policy. (shrink)
It is plausible to think that part of what it is to be an autonomous agent is to adequately respond to important changes in one’s circumstances. The agent who has set her own course in life, but is unable to recognize and respond appropriately when evidence arises indicating the need to reconsider and perhaps adjust her plan, lacks an important form of personal autonomy. However, this “evidence-responsiveness” aspect of autonomy has not yet been adequately analyzed. Most autonomy theorists (...) ignore it altogether and the few who have addressed it have failed to give a satisfactory account. In this paper, I first examine an evidence-responsiveness condition proposed by Arneson. I argue there that while Arneson’s condition provides a valuable framework in which to examine evidence-responsiveness, there are several crucial issues that it either fails to address at all or else fails to adequately resolve. That condition is therefore in need of further elaboration and refinement. I then examine a recent article in this journal by Blöser, Schöpf, and Willaschek which develops an account of autonomy that I argue can usefully be understood as employing and elaborating upon the general framework offered by Arneson. I argue that while the elaboration Blöser and her co-authors provide Arneson’s condition is instructive, it is inadequate in several important ways which indicate the form a more satisfactory evidence-responsiveness condition will take. I go on to develop such a condition and conclude by highlighting the advantages to be gained by including that condition in a complete theory of autonomy. (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)
Begins by explaining then proving a generalized language dependence result similar to Goodman's "grue" problem. I then use this result to cast doubt on the existence of an objective evidential favoring relation (such as "the evidence confirms one hypothesis over another," "the evidence provides more reason to believe one hypothesis over the other," "the evidence justifies one hypothesis over the other," etc.). Once we understand what language dependence tells us about evidential favoring, our options are an implausibly (...) strong conception of the a priori, a hard externalism on which agents are unable to determine what their evidence favors, or a subjectivist view that makes evidential favoring relative to features of the agent. (shrink)
Sherrilyn Roush defends a new theory of knowledge and evidence, based on the idea of "tracking" the truth, as the best approach to a wide range of questions about knowledge-related phenomena. The theory explains, for example, why scepticism is frustrating, why knowledge is power, and why better evidence makes you more likely to have knowledge. Tracking Truth provides a unification of the concepts of knowledge and evidence, and argues against traditional epistemological realist and anti-realist positions about scientific (...) theories and for a piecemeal approach based on a criterion of evidence, a position Roush calls "real anti-realism." Epistemologists and philosophers of science will recognize this as a significant original contribution. (shrink)
Should learning we disagree about p lead you to reduce confidence in p? Some who think so want to except beliefs in which you are rationally highly confident. I argue that this is wrong; we should reject accounts that rely on this intuitive thought. I then show that quite the opposite holds: factors that justify low confidence in p also make disagreement about p less significant. I examine two such factors: your antecedent expectations about your peers’ opinions and the difficulty (...) of evaluating your evidence. I close by proposing a different way of thinking about disagreement. (shrink)
Recent work in artificial intelligence has increasingly turned to argumentation as a rich, interdisciplinary area of research that can provide new methods related to evidence and reasoning in the area of law. Douglas Walton provides an introduction to basic concepts, tools and methods in argumentation theory and artificial intelligence as applied to the analysis and evaluation of witness testimony. He shows how witness testimony is by its nature inherently fallible and sometimes subject to disastrous failures. At the same time (...) such testimony can provide evidence that is not only necessary but inherently reasonable for logically guiding legal experts to accept or reject a claim. Walton shows how to overcome the traditional disdain for witness testimony as a type of evidence shown by logical positivists, and the views of trial sceptics who doubt that trial rules deal with witness testimony in a way that yields a rational decision-making process. (shrink)
Reagon, Bellin and Boniface argue that traditional models of evidence-based practice focus too much on randomised controlled trials and neglect 'the multiple truths of occupational therapy'. This opinion piece points out several flaws in their argument, and suggests that it is unethical to rely on weaker evidence sources when higher quality evidence exists. Ironically, the evidence that they provide to support their argument regarding different types of evidence is itself very weak.
Sometimes we get evidence of our own epistemic malfunction. This can come from finding out we’re fatigued, or have been drugged, or that other competent and well-informed thinkers disagree with our beliefs. This sort of evidence seems to seems to behave differently from ordinary evidence about the world. In particular, getting such evidence can put agents in a position where the most rational response involves violating some epistemic ideal.
The law views with suspicion statistical evidence, even evidence that is probabilistically on a par with direct, individual evidence that the law is in no way suspicious of. But it has proved remarkably hard to either justify this suspicion, or to debunk it. In this paper, we connect the discussion of statistical evidence to broader epistemological discussions of similar phenomena. We highlight Sensitivity – the requirement that a belief be counterfactually sensitive to the truth in a (...) specific way – as a way of epistemically explaining the legal suspicion towards statistical evidence. Still, we do not think of this as a satisfactory vindication of the reluctance to rely on statistical evidence. Knowledge – and Sensitivity, and indeed epistemology in general – are of little, if any, legal value. Instead, we tell an incentive-based story vindicating the suspicion towards statistical evidence. We conclude by showing that the epistemological story and the incentive-based story are closely and interestingly related, and by offering initial thoughts about the role of statistical evidence in morality. (shrink)
In this important book, a distinguished legal scholar examines how the legal culture and institutions in Anglo-American countries affect the way in which evidence is gathered, sifted, and presented to the courts.
Scientists use visualisations of different kinds in a variety of ways in their scientific work. In the following article, we will take a closer look at the use of photographic pictures as scientific evidence. In accordance with Patrick Maynard’s thesis, photography will be regarded as a family of technologies serving different purposes in divergent contexts. One of these is its ability to detect certain phenomena. Nonetheless, with regard to the philosophical thesis of theory-ladenness of observation, we encounter certain reservations (...) concerning the status of photography and that of photographic pictures in the process of measurement in science. Accordingly, the aim of this paper is twofold: We will discuss suggested solutions both for the technological and for the psychological part of the problem of theory-ladenness appearing in the context of the use of photography in scientific observations. The essential proposal will be to follow Christian Suhm in his advice to make a distinction between theory-relativity and theory-ladenness. (shrink)
Weighing complex sets of evidence (i.e., from multiple disciplines and often divergent in implications) is increasingly central to properly informed decision-making. Determining “where the weight of evidence lies” is essential both for making maximal use of available evidence and figuring out what to make of such evidence. Weighing evidence in this sense requires an approach that can handle a wide range of evidential sources (completeness), that can combine the evidence with rigor, and that can (...) do so in a way other experts can assess and critique (transparency). But the democratic context in need of weight-of-evidence analysis also places additional constraints on the process, including communicability of the process to the general public, the need for an approach that can be used across a broad range of contexts (scope), and timeliness of process (practicality). I will compare qualitative and quantitative approaches with respect to both traditional epistemic criteria and criteria that arise from the democratic context, and argue that a qualitative explanatory approach can best meet the criteria and elucidate how to utilize the other approaches. This should not be surprising, as the approach I argue for is the one that most closely tracks general scientific reasoning. (shrink)
Surgery is an increasingly common and expensive mode of medical intervention. The ethical dimensions of the surgeon-patient relationship, including respect for personal autonomy and informed consent, are much discussed; but broader equity issues have not received the same attention. This paper extends the understanding of surgical ethics by considering the nature of evidence in surgery and its relationship to a just provision of healthcare for individuals and their populations.
Background In the context of limited health care budgets in countries where Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are endemic, scaling up disease control interventions entails the setting of priorities. However, solutions based solely on cost-effectiveness analyses may lead to biased and insufficiently justified priorities. Objectives The objectives of this paper are to 1) demonstrate how a range of equity concerns can be used to identify feasible priority setting criteria, 2) show how these criteria can be fed into a multi-criteria decision-making matrix, (...) and 3) discuss the conditions under which this decision-making procedure should be carried out in a real-world decision-making context. Methods This paper draws on elements from theories of decision analysis and ethical theories of fair resource allocation. We explore six typical NTD interventions by employing a modified multi-criteria decision analysis model with predefined criteria, drawn from a priority setting guide under development by the WHO. To identify relevant evidence for the six chosen interventions, we searched the PubMed and Cochrane databases. Discussion Our in vitro multi-criteria decision analysis suggested that case management for visceral leishmaniasis should be given a higher priority than mass campaigns to prevent soil-transmitted helminthic infections. This seems to contradict current health care priorities and recommendations in the literature. We also consider procedural conditions that should be met in a contextualised decision-making process and we stress the limitations of this study exercise. Conclusion By exploring how several criteria relevant to the multi-facetted characteristics of NTDs can be taken into account simultaneously, we are able to suggest how improved priority settings among NTDs can be realised. (shrink)
This paper presents the Futurium platform used by Digital Futures, a foresight project launched by the European Commission's Directorate General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT). Futurium was initially developed with the primary purpose of hosting and curating visions and policy ideas generated by Digital Futures (Digital Futures was launched in July 2011 by DG CONNECT's Director General Robert Madelin following a prior DG CONNECT exercise called Digital Science.). However, it has turned into a platform on which to (...) experiment with new policymaking models based on scientific evidence and stakeholder participation, referred to in this paper as ‘Policy Making 3.0’. The platform hosts an online foresight toolkit to facilitate the joint creation of ideas to help design future policies. It leverages the potential of social networks, open data, semantic and knowledge mining technologies as well as participatory brainstorming techniques to engage stakeholders and harness their views and creativity to better inform policies that matter to them. The Futurium distinguishes between different variables, reflecting the emotional vs. rational mindsets of the participants, and offers the possibility to frame the engagement and co-creation process into multiple phases of a workflow. Futurium was developed to support Digital Futures, but its open architecture makes it easily adaptable to any policymaking/decision-making context where thinking ahead, participation, scientific evidence and agility are needed. Futurium is an early prototype implementation of the Policy Making 3.0 model, which is a long-term vision requiring further investigation and experimentation. The Futurium production website can be seen here: ec.europa.eu/digital-agenda/futurium. (shrink)
The dominant approach to evaluating the law on evidence and proof focuses on how the trial system should be structured to guard against error. This book argues instead that complex and intertwining moral and epistemic considerations come into view when departing from the standpoint of a detached observer and taking the perspective of the person responsible for making findings of fact. Ho contends that it is only by exploring the nature and content of deliberative responsibility that the role and (...) purpose of much of the law can be fully understood. In many cases, values other than truth have to be respected, not simply as side-constraints, but as values which are internal to the nature and purpose of the trial. A party does not merely have a right that the substantive law be correctly applied to objectively true findings of fact, and a right to have the case tried under rationally structured rules. The party has, more broadly, a right to a just verdict, where justice must be understood to incorporate a moral evaluation of the process which led to the outcome. Ho argues that there is an important sense in which truth and justice are not opposing considerations; rather, principles of one kind reinforce demands of the other. This book argues that the court must not only find the truth to do justice, it must do justice in finding the truth. (shrink)
Children learn their native language by exposure to their linguistic and communicative environment, but apparently without requiring that their mistakes be corrected. Such learning from “positive evidence” has been viewed as raising “logical” problems for language acquisition. In particular, without correction, how is the child to recover from conjecturing an over-general grammar, which will be consistent with any sentence that the child hears? There have been many proposals concerning how this “logical problem” can be dissolved. In this study, we (...) review recent formal results showing that the learner has sufficient data to learn successfully from positive evidence, if it favors the simplest encoding of the linguistic input. Results include the learnability of linguistic prediction, grammaticality judgments, language production, and form-meaning mappings. The simplicity approach can also be “scaled down” to analyze the learnability of specific linguistic constructions, and it is amenable to empirical testing as a framework for describing human language acquisition. (shrink)
Mark Nelson argues that we have no positive epistemic duties. His case rests on the evidential inexhaustibility of sensory and propositional evidence—what he calls their ‘infinite justificational fecundity’. It is argued here that Nelson’s reflections on the richness of sensory and propositional evidence do make it doubtful that we ever have an epistemic duty to add any particular beliefs to our belief set, but that they fail to establish that we have no positive epistemic duties whatsoever. A theory (...) of epistemic obligation based on Kant’s idea of an imperfect duty is outlined. It is suggested that such a theory is consistent with the inexhaustibility of sensory and propositional evidence. Finally, one feature of our epistemic practice suggestive of the existence of imperfect epistemic duties is identified and promoted. (shrink)
I describe two traditions of philosophical accounts of evidence: one characterizes the notion in terms of signs of success, the other characterizes the notion in terms of conditions of success. The best examples of the former rely on the probability calculus, and have the virtues of generality and theoretical simplicity. The best examples of the latter describe the features of evidence which scientists appeal to in practice, which include general features of methods, such as quality and relevance, and (...) general features of evidence, such as patterns in data, concordance with other evidence, and believability of the evidence. Two infamous episodes from biomedical research help to illustrate these features. Philosophical characterization of these latter features—conditions of success—has the virtue of potential relevance to, and descriptive accuracy of, practices of experimental scientists. (shrink)
Newton da Costa and Steven French have argued that the concept of partial truth plays an important role in our understanding of significant aspects of scientific practice: from the status of scientific theories through the understanding of inconsistency in science to the nature of induction (see da Costa and French 2003). In this paper, I use the concept of partial truth and the associated framework of partial structures to offer a formulation of the concept of visual evidence, and I (...) examine some of the roles that this notion plays in scientific activity. DOI:10.5007/1808-1711.2011v15n2p249. (shrink)
The basic understanding which underlies scientific evidence - ideas such as the structure of experiments, causality, repeatability, validity and reliability- is not straightforward. But these ideas are needed to judge evidence in school science, in physics or chemistry or biology or psychology, in undergraduate science, and in understanding everyday issues to do with science. It is essential to be able to be critical of scientific evidence. The authors clearly set out the principles of investigation so that the (...) reader will be confident in questioning the experts, making an informed choice or arriving at in informed opinion. The book is intended for a wide range of readers including those who want to: } collect their own evidence } be able to question and judge a wide range of science-based issues that we come across in the press or other media in everyday life } teach others how to understand evidence. This book has been developed from the authors' work with first year undergraduates in a combined science course and in primary teacher training for science specialists. It is suitable for students training as primary science specialists, and also for 'A' level and first-year undergraduates in science and science-related subjects. (shrink)
The evidence with respect to scientific claims is like empirical eviderwe generally — only more so: more complex, more dependent on instruments, etc., and usually a shared resource. Warranted scientific claims are always warranted by somebody's, or somebodies', experience, and somebody's or, somebodies', reasoning; so a theory of warrant must begin with the personal and then move to the social before it can get to grips with the impersonal sense in which we speak of a well-warranted claim or ill-founded (...) conjecture. (shrink)
Even though the evidence‐based medicine movement (EBM) labels mechanisms a low quality form of evidence, consideration of the mechanisms on which medicine relies, and the distinct roles that mechanisms might play in clinical practice, offers a number of insights into EBM itself. In this paper, I examine the connections between EBM and mechanisms from several angles. I diagnose what went wrong in two examples where mechanistic reasoning failed to generate accurate predictions for how a dysfunctional mechanism would respond (...) to intervention. I then use these examples to explain why we should expect this kind of mechanistic reasoning to fail in systematic ways, by situating these failures in terms of evolved complexity of the causal system(s) in question. I argue that there is still a different role in which mechanisms continue to figure as evidence in EBM: namely, in guiding the application of population‐level recommendations to individual patients. Thus, even though the evidence‐based movement rejects one role in which mechanistic reasoning serves as evidence, there are other evidentiary roles for mechanistic reasoning. This renders plausible the claims of some critics of evidencebased medicine who point to the ineliminable role of clinical experience. Clearly specifying the ways in which mechanisms and mechanistic reasoning can be involved in clinical practice frames the discussion about EBM and clinical experience in more fruitful terms. (shrink)
Explains every part of the theory of the law of evidence, including the nature and species of judicial proof, means of protection against falsehood, grounds of excluding proof, and peculiarities of certain species of evidence.
Biologists, historians, lawyers, art historians, and literary critics all voice arguments in the critical dialogue about what constitutes evidence in research and scholarship. They examine not only the constitution and "blurring" of disciplinary boundaries, but also the configuration of the fact-evidence distinctions made in different disciplines and historical moments the relative function of such concepts as "self-evidence," "experience," "test," "testimony," and "textuality" in varied academic discourses and the way "rules of evidence" are themselves products of historical (...) developments. The essays and rejoinders are by Terry Castle, Lorraine Daston, Carlo Ginzburg, Ian Hacking, Mark Kelman, R. C. Lewontin, Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Mary Poovey, Donald Preziosi, Simon Schaffer, Joan W. Scott, Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, and Barbara Herrnstein Smith. The critical responses are by Lauren Berlant, James Chandler, Jean Comaroff, Arnold I. Davidson, Harry D. harootunian, Elizabeth Helsinger, Thomas C. Holt, Francoise Meltzer, Robert J. Richards, Lawrence Rothfield, Joel Snyder, Cass R. Sunstein, and William Wimsatt. (shrink)
Evidence - its nature and interpretation - is the key to many topical debates and concerns such as global warming, evolution, the search for weapons of mass destruction, DNA profiling, evidence-based medicine. In 2004 University College London launched a cross-disciplinary research programme "Evidence, Inference and Enquiry" to explore the question: "Can there be an integrated multidisciplinary science of evidence?" While this question was hotly contested and no clear final consensus emerged, much was learned on the journey. (...) This book, based on the closing conference of the programme held at the British Academy in December 2007, illustrates the complexity of the subject, with 17 chapters written from a diversity of perspectives including Archaeology, Computer Science, Economics, Education, Health, History, Law, Psychology, Philosophy and Statistics. General issues covered include principles and systems for handling complex evidence, evidence for policy-making, and human evidence-processing, as well as the very possibility of systematising the study of evidence. (shrink)
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)
The problem of collecting, analyzing and evaluating evidence on adverse drug reactions (ADRs) is an example of the more general class of epistemological problems related to scientific inference and prediction, as well as a central problem of the health-care practice. Philosophical discussions have critically analysed the methodological pitfalls and epistemological implications of evidence assessment in medicine, however they have mainly focused on evidence of treatment efficacy. Most of this work is devoted to statistical methods of causal inference (...) with a special attention to the privileged role assigned to randomized controlled trials in Evidence Based Medicine. Regardless of whether the RCT’s privilege holds for efficacy assessment, it is nevertheless important to make a distinction between causal inference of intended and unintended effects, in that the unknowns at stake are heterogonous in the two contexts. This point has been emphasized by epidemiologists in the last decade. Their main focus is methodological, and regards the fact that bias and confounding do not affect studies on intended and unintended effects in the same way. However, deeper concerns ground the intuition for such a distinction; these are related to the constraints which we impose on evidence and their epistemological justification. My thesis is that such constraints ought to be understood to be different in the case of evidence for risk vs. benefit assessment. I present the recent debate on the causal association between acetaminophen and asthma in order to illustrate the point at issue. (shrink)
BackgroundIn 2009, Dr. Paolo Zamboni proposed chronic cerebrospinal venous insufficiency (CCSVI) as a possible cause of multiple sclerosis (MS). Although his theory and the associated treatment (“liberation therapy”) received little more than passing interest in the international scientific and medical communities, his ideas became the source of tremendous public and political tension in Canada. The story moved rapidly from mainstream media to social networking sites. CCSVI and liberation therapy swiftly garnered support among patients and triggered remarkable and relentless advocacy efforts. (...) Policy makers have responded in a variety of ways to the public’s call for action.DiscussionWe present three different perspectives on this evolving story, that of a health journalist who played a key role in the media coverage of this issue, that of a health law and policy scholar who has closely observed the unfolding public policy developments across the country, and that of a medical ethicist who sits on an expert panel convened by the MS Society of Canada and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research to assess the evidence as it emerges.SummaryThis story raises important questions about resource allocation and priority setting in scientific research and science policy. The growing power of social media represents a new level of citizen engagement and advocacy, and emphasizes the importance of open debate about the basis on which such policy choices are made. It also highlights the different ways evidence may be understood, valued and utilized by various stakeholders and further emphasizes calls to improve science communication so as to support balanced and informed decision-making. (shrink)
This is the first book to systematically examine the underlying theory of evidence in Anglo-American legal systems. Stein develops a detailed and innovative theory which sets aside the traditional vision of evidence law as facilitating the discovery of the truth. Combining probability theory, epistemology, economic analysis, and moral philosophy, he argues instead that the fundamental purpose of evidence law is to apportion the risk of error in conditions of uncertainty.
Poor quality medical care is sometimes attributed to physicians’ unwillingness to act on evidence about what works best. Evidence-based performance standards (EBPSs) are one response to this problem, and they are increasingly employed by health care regulators and payers. Evidence in this instance is judged according to the precepts of evidence-based medicine (EBM); it is probabilistic, and the randomized controlled trial (RCT) is the gold standard. This means that EBPSs suffer all the infirmities of EBM generally—well (...) rehearsed problems with the external validity of research findings as well as the inferential leap from study results in the aggregate to individual patient care. These theoretical weaknesses promise to have a practical impact on the care of patients. To avoid this, EBPSs should be understood as guidelines indicative of average effectiveness rather than standards to be applied in every case. (shrink)
In some of the most important recent work in religious epistemology, Paul Moser (2002, 2004, 2008) develops a multifaceted reply to a prominent attack on belief in God—what we’ll call the Hiddenness Argument. This paper raises a number of worries about Moser’s novel treatment of the Hiddenness Argument. After laying out the version of that argument Moser most explicitly engages, we explain the four main elements of Moser’s reply and argue that it stands or falls with two pieces in particular—what (...) we call the Purposively Available Evidence Argument and the Cognitive Idolatry Argument. We then show that the Cognitive Idolatry Argument fails, leaving the Purposively Available Evidence Argument as Moser’s only potentially viable objection to the Hiddenness Argument. We conclude that Moser’s treatment of the Hiddenness Argument depends crucially on some controversial epistemological claims about certain of our moral beliefs, and is thus considerably more vulnerable than many have recognized. (shrink)
The joke among scientists is that ‘philosopher’ is the last stage of one’s scien- tific career, to be arrived at when one can no longer get grants funded or graduate stu- dents to advise. Despite the fact that some of the greatest minds in evolutionary biology (from Darwin to Ernst Mayr) were very much interested in the philosophical aspects of what they were doing, the bad joke persists in the halls of academia.
The author considers the empirical component of physical theories. He studies the origin and development of the theory of physical experiment, the structure and gnoseological hypotheses of the measuring process, as well as the relativity principle concerning the measuring equipment. Examples of modern physical theories are used in order to demonstrate the influence of experimental facts on the formation and development, verification and accepting of these theories in the structure of scientific systems. The role of accidental experimental facts in this (...) process is also the subject. (shrink)
A systematic study of rational or justified belief, which throws fresh light on current debates about foundations and coherence theories of knowledge, the validation of induction and moral scepticism. Dr Nathan focuses attention on the largely unsatisfiable desires for active and self-conscious assurance of truth liable to be engendered by philosophical reflection about total belief-systems and the sources of knowledge. He extracts a kernel of truth from the doctrine that a regress of justification is both necessary and impossible, contrasts the (...) resultant scepticism with more familiar complaints about the inapplicability of supposedly essential cognitive concepts and explores the feasibility of non-Humean modes of consolation. This is an original and carefully constructed book, which will interest professional philosophers and advanced students of epistemology. (shrink)
It is argued in this paper that amalgamating confirmation from various sources is relevantly different from social-choice contexts, and that proving an impossibility theorem for aggregating confirmation measures directs attention to irrelevant issues.
For nearly two millennia, theistic philosophers have had to contend with problems raised against their theistic beliefs. Typically raised by nontheistic (atheistic and agnostic) philosophers, these problems have ranged from critiques of theistic philosophers’ arguments for God’s existence to arguments for the nonexistence of God. -/- In this book, I present a new set of problems for theistic philosophers’ theistic beliefs. The problems pertain specifically to three types of theistic philosopher, to be referred to here as “theistic inferentialists,” “theistic noninferentialists,” (...) and “theistic fideists” (to be defined shortly). Each type of theistic philosopher faces a problem unique to his or her type, and they all share two problems, or so I shall argue. In some cases, the problems raised here take us down an entirely new discursive path; in others, they take us down a new discursive path branching off from an old discursive path. In every case, however, they are paths that take us farther and farther away from theism. (shrink)
My aim in this paper is to develop and defend a novel answer to a question that has recently generated a considerable amount of controversy. The question concerns the normative significance of peer disagreement. Suppose that you and I have been exposed to the same evidence and arguments that bear on some proposition: there is no relevant consideration which is available to you but not to me, or vice versa. For the sake of concreteness, we might picture.
Two theses figure centrally in work on the epistemology of disagreement: Equal Weight (‘EW’) and Uniqueness (‘U’). According to EW, you should give precisely as much weight to the attitude of a disagreeing epistemic peer as you give to your own attitude. U has it that, for any given proposition and total body of evidence, some doxastic attitude is the one the evidence makes rational (justifies) toward that proposition. Although EW has received considerable discussion, the case for U (...) has not been critically evaluated. Endorsing U, we argue, commits one to the highly controversial thesis that whatever fixes your rational attitudes can do so only by fixing what evidence you have. This commitment imposes a relatively demanding requirement on justified belief in U, one that we argue is not satisfied by what is currently the strongest available case for U, due to Roger White . Our challenge to U makes more trouble for its proponents than do the worries about U expressed by Gideon Rosen  and Thomas Kelly . Moreover, if Kelly  is correct in thinking that EW “carries with it a commitment to” U—a claim which we accept for reasons similar to Kelly’s but is beyond this paper’s scope (but see Ballantyne and Coffman [forthcoming])—then our challenge to U bears importantly on EW: to the extent that our challenge to U succeeds, EW also suffers. (shrink)
Evidentialism is the thesis that a person is justified in believing a proposition iff the person's evidence on balance supports that proposition. In discussing epistemological issues associated with disagreements among epistemic peers, some philosophers have endorsed principles that seem to run contrary to evidentialism, specifying how one should revise one's beliefs in light of disagreement. In this paper, I examine the connection between evidentialism and these principles. I argue that the puzzles about disagreement provide no reason to abandon evidentialism (...) and that there are no true general principles about justified responses to disagreement other than the general evidentialist principle. I then argue that the puzzles about disagreement are primarily puzzles about the evidential impact of higher-order evidence – evidence about the significance or existence of ordinary, or first-order, evidence. I conclude by arguing that such higher-order evidence can often have a profound effect on the justification of first-order beliefs. (shrink)
Roughly, psychological egoism is the thesis that all of a person's intentional actions are ultimately self-interested in some sense; psychological altruism is the thesis that some of a person's intentional actions are not ultimately self-interested, since some are ultimately other-regarding in some sense. C. Daniel Batson and other social psychologists have argued that experiments provide support for a theory called the "empathy-altruism hypothesis" that entails the falsity of psychological egoism. However, several critics claim that there are egoistic explanations of the (...) data that are still not ruled out. One of the most potent criticisms of Batson comes from Elliott Sober and David Sloan Wilson. I argue for two main theses in this paper: (1) we can improve on Sober and Wilson’s conception of psychological egoism and altruism, and (2) this improvement shows that one of the strongest of Sober and Wilson's purportedly egoistic explanations is not tenable. A defense of these two theses goes some way toward defending Batson‘s claim that the evidence from social psychology provides sufficient reason to reject psychological egoism. (shrink)
What is the nature of the evidence provided by thought experiments in philosophy? For instance, what evidence is provided by the Gettier thought experiment against the JTB theory of knowledge? According to one view, it provides as evidence only a certain psychological proposition, e.g. that it seems to one that the subject in the Gettier case lacks knowledge. On an alternative, nonpsychological view, the Gettier thought experiment provides as evidence the nonpsychological proposition that the subject in (...) the Gettier case lacks knowledge (e.g., Williamson 2007). Given the centrality of thought experiments to philosophical enquiry, the correct account of thought experiment evidence is important for understanding the nature of philosophical methodology. Further, Williamson argues that a misguided adherence to the psychological view of thought experiment evidence encourages scepticism about philosophy since it opens a gap between our evidence and the nonpsychological subject matter of philosophy. The main aim of this paper is to defend the psychological view against recent objections. In particular, I argue that even if thought experiment evidence is psychological, it can still provide justification for non-psychological claims which are the subject matter of philosophy. (shrink)
This book is concerned with the role of intuitions in the justification of philosophical theory. The author begins by demonstrating how contemporary philosophers, whether engaged in case-driven analysis or seeking reflective equilibrium, rely on intuitions as evidence for their theories. The author then provides an account of the nature of philosophical intuitions and distinguishes them from other psychological states. Finally, the author defends the use of intuitions as evidence by demonstrating that arguments for skepticism about their evidential value (...) are either self-defeating or guilty of arbitrary and unjustified partiality towards non-intuitive modes of knowledge. (shrink)
In this note, I consider various precisifications of the slogan ‘evidence of evidence is evidence’. I provide counter-examples to each of these precisifications (assuming an epistemic probabilistic relevance notion of ‘evidential support’).
According to Williamson, your evidence consists of all and only what you know (E = K). According to his critics, it doesn’t. While E = K calls for revision, the revisions it calls for are minor. E = K gets this much right. Only true propositions can constitute evidence and anything you know non-inferentially is part of your evidence. In this paper, I defend these two theses about evidence and its possession from Williamson’s critics who think (...) we should break more radically from E = K. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to examine the kind of evidence that might be adduced in support of relativist semantics of a kind that have recently been proposed for predicates of personal taste, for epistemic modals, for knowledge attributions and for other cases. I shall concentrate on the case of taste predicates, but what I have to say is easily transposed to the other cases just mentioned. I shall begin by considering in general the question of what kind (...) of evidence can be offered in favour of some semantic theory or framework of semantic theorizing. In other words, I shall begin with the difficult question of the empirical significance of semantic theorizing. In Sect. 2, I outline a relativist semantic theory, and in Sect. 3, I review four types of evidence that might be offered in favour of a relativistic framework. I show that the evidence is not conclusive because a sophisticated form of contextualism (or indexical relativism) can stand up to the evidence. However, the evidence can be taken to support the view that either relativism or the sophisticated form of contextualism is correct. (shrink)
Timothy Williamson has argued that a person S ’s total evidence is constituted solely by propositions that S knows. This theory of evidence entails that a false belief can not be a part of S ’s evidence base for a conclusion. I argue by counterexample that this thesis (E = K for now) forces an implausible separation between what it means for a belief to be justified and rational from one’s perspective and what it means to base (...) one’s beliefs on the evidence. Furthermore, I argue that E = K entails the implausible result that there are cases in which a well-evidenced belief necessarily can not serve as evidence for a further proposition. (shrink)
“Absence of evidence isn’t evidence of absence” is a slogan that is popular among scientists and nonscientists alike. This article assesses its truth by using a probabilistic tool, the Law of Likelihood. Qualitative questions (“Is E evidence about H ?”) and quantitative questions (“How much evidence does E provide about H ?”) are both considered. The article discusses the example of fossil intermediates. If finding a fossil that is phenotypically intermediate between two extant species provides (...) class='Hi'>evidence that those species have a common ancestor, does failing to find such a fossil constitute evidence that there was no common ancestor? Or should the failure merely be chalked up to the imperfection of the fossil record? The transitivity of the evidence relation in simple causal chains provides a broader context, which leads to discussion of the fine-tuning argument, the anthropic principle, and observation selection effects. (shrink)