In defense of meta-analysis

Synthese 196 (8):3189-3211 (2019)
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Arguments that medical decision making should rely on a variety of evidence often begin from the claim that meta-analysis has been shown to be problematic. In this paper, I first examine Stegenga’s argument that meta-analysis requires multiple decisions and thus fails to provide an objective ground for medical decision making. Next, I examine three arguments from social epistemologists that contend that meta-analyses are systematically biased in ways not appreciated by standard epistemology. In most cases I show that critiques of meta-analysis fail to account for the full range of meta-analytic procedures. In the remainder of cases, I argue that the critiques identify problems that do not uniquely cut against meta-analysis. I close by suggesting one reason why it may be pragmatically rational to violate the principle of total evidence and by outlining the criteria for a successful argument against meta-analysis. A set of criteria I contend remain unmet.



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Bennett Holman
Yonsei University

Citations of this work

Bias as an epistemic notion.Anke Bueter - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 91 (C):307-315.
How (not) to measure replication.Samuel C. Fletcher - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (2):1-27.

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