Establishing Causal Claims in Medicine

International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 32 (1):33-61 (2019)
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Abstract

Russo and Williamson put forward the following thesis: in order to establish a causal claim in medicine, one normally needs to establish both that the putative cause and putative effect are appropriately correlated and that there is some underlying mechanism that can account for this correlation. I argue that, although the Russo-Williamson thesis conflicts with the tenets of present-day evidence-based medicine, it offers a better causal epistemology than that provided by present-day EBM because it better explains two key aspects of causal discovery. First, the thesis better explains the role of clinical studies in establishing causal claims. Second, it yields a better account of extrapolation.

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Jon Williamson
University of Kent

Citations of this work

Applying Evidential Pluralism to the Social Sciences.Yafeng Shan & Jon Williamson - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (4):1-27.
Six Theses on Mechanisms and Mechanistic Science.Stuart Glennan, Phyllis Illari & Erik Weber - 2022 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 53 (2):143-161.

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References found in this work

Thinking about mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.
The direction of time.Hans Reichenbach - 1956 - Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications. Edited by Maria Reichenbach.
Causality and explanation.Wesley C. Salmon - 1998 - New York: Oxford University Press.
Probability Theory. The Logic of Science.Edwin T. Jaynes - 2002 - Cambridge University Press: Cambridge. Edited by G. Larry Bretthorst.
The philosophy of evidence-based medicine.Jeremy H. Howick - 2011 - Chichester, West Sussex, UK: Wiley-Blackwell, BMJ Books.

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