Synthese 196 (8):3189-3211 (2019)

Bennett Holman
Yonsei University
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.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11229-018-1690-2
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,259
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Knowledge in a Social World.Alvin Ira Goldman - 1999 - Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.
The Fate of Knowledge.Helen E. Longino - 2001 - Princeton University Press.

View all 33 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

How (Not) to Measure Replication.Samuel C. Fletcher - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (2):1-27.
Bias as an Epistemic Notion.Anke Bueter - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 91:307-315.
Assessing the Overall Validity of Randomised Controlled Trials.Alexander Krauss - 2021 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 34 (3):159-182.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Is Meta-Analysis the Platinum Standard of Evidence?Jacob Stegenga - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (4):497-507.
Reliability in Cognitive Neuroscience: A Meta-Meta Analysis.Colin Klein - 2015 - Philosophical Psychology 28 (4):606-609.
Meta-Analysis, Mega-Analysis, and Task Analysis in fMRI Research.Sergi G. Costafreda - 2011 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 18 (4):275-277.
Meta‐Analysis or Best‐Evidence Synthesis?H. J. Eysenck - 1995 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 1 (1):29-36.
Bayesian Inference and its Application to Meta-Analysis of Epidemiologic Data.Pamela Anne Trudeau - 1991 - Dissertation, The University of Texas Health Sciences Center at Houston School of Public Health
Necessity in Self‐Defense and War.Seth Lazar - 2012 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 40 (1):3-44.
An Illustrated Guide to the Methods of Meta‐Analysis.Alexander J. Sutton, Keith R. Abrams & David R. Jones - 2001 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 7 (2):135-148.
Meta‐Analysis of Repeated Measures Study Designs.Jaime L. Peters & Kerrie L. Mengersen - 2008 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 14 (5):941-950.
META-ART.Ulrich de Balbian - forthcoming - Academic publishers.
The Case for Failed Meta‐Analyses.C. David Naylor - 1995 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 1 (2):127-130.


Added to PP index

Total views
47 ( #242,802 of 2,518,496 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
4 ( #167,146 of 2,518,496 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes