Authors
Stefano Canali
Politecnico di Milano
Abstract
In current philosophical discussions on evidence in the medical sciences, epidemiology has been used to exemplify a specific version of evidential pluralism. According to this view, known as the Russo–Williamson Thesis, evidence of both difference-making and mechanisms is produced to make causal claims in the health sciences. In this paper, I present an analysis of data and evidence in epidemiological practice, with a special focus on research on the exposome, and I cast doubt on the extent to which evidential pluralism holds in this case. I start by focusing on the claim that molecular data allows for the production of mechanistic evidence. On the basis of a close look at the ways in which molecular data is used in exposome research, I caution against interpretations in terms of mechanistic evidence. Secondly, I expand my critical remarks on the thesis by addressing the conditions under which data is categorised as evidence in exposome research. I argue that these show that the classification of a dataset as a type of evidence is dependent on the ways in which the data is used. This is in contrast with the approach of evidential pluralism, where evidence is classified in different types on the basis of its intrinsic properties. Finally, I come back to what I consider the core of the thesis and suggest that the epidemiological research analysed in the paper indicates different interpretations of evidential pluralism and its applicability in the health sciences.
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DOI 10.1007/s40656-019-0241-6
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References found in this work BETA

What is a Mechanism? Thinking About Mechanisms Across the Sciences.Phyllis Illari & Jon Williamson - 2012 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 2 (1):119-135.
Saving the Phenomena.James Bogen & James Woodward - 1988 - Philosophical Review 97 (3):303-352.
Interpreting Causality in the Health Sciences.Federica Russo & Jon Williamson - 2007 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (2):157 – 170.
Evidence.Thomas Kelly - 2006 - Philosophy Compass.

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Citations of this work BETA

What Is New About the Exposome? Exploring Scientific Change in Contemporary Epidemiology.Stefano Canali - 2020 - International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 2879 (17).

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