Mechanisms and the Evidence Hierarchy

Topoi 33 (2):339-360 (2014)

Authors
Jon Williamson
University of Kent
Federica Russo
University of Amsterdam
Phyllis Illari
University College London
Abstract
Evidence-based medicine (EBM) makes use of explicit procedures for grading evidence for causal claims. Normally, these procedures categorise evidence of correlation produced by statistical trials as better evidence for a causal claim than evidence of mechanisms produced by other methods. We argue, in contrast, that evidence of mechanisms needs to be viewed as complementary to, rather than inferior to, evidence of correlation. In this paper we first set out the case for treating evidence of mechanisms alongside evidence of correlation in explicit protocols for evaluating evidence. Next we provide case studies which exemplify the ways in which evidence of mechanisms complements evidence of correlation in practice. Finally, we put forward some general considerations as to how the two sorts of evidence can be more closely integrated by EBM
Keywords Mechanism  Difference-making  Evidence  Evidence of mechanism  Evidence in medicine  Evidence-based medicine
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DOI 10.1007/s11245-013-9220-9
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References found in this work BETA

Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter K. Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
Explaining the Brain.Carl F. Craver - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
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.
Interpreting Causality in the Health Sciences.Federica Russo & Jon Williamson - 2007 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (2):157 – 170.

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Citations of this work BETA

The Risk GP Model: The Standard Model of Prediction in Medicine.Jonathan Fuller & Luis J. Flores - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 54:49-61.
Prediction in Epidemiology and Medicine.Jonathan Fuller, Alex Broadbent & Luis J. Flores - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C.
Why Behavioural Policy Needs Mechanistic Evidence.Till Grüne-Yanoff - 2016 - Economics and Philosophy 32 (3):463-483.

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