Mechanistic reasoning and the problem of masking

Synthese 199 (3-4):1-16 (2021)
  Copy   BIBTEX


At least historically, it was common for medical practitioners to believe causal hypotheses on the basis of standalone mechanistic reasoning. However, it is now widely acknowledged that standalone mechanistic reasoning is insufficient for appropriately believing a causal hypothesis in medicine, thanks in part to the so-called problem of masking. But standalone mechanistic reasoning is not the only type of mechanistic reasoning. When exactly then is it appropriate to believe a causal hypothesis on the basis of mechanistic reasoning? In this paper, I argue that it has proved difficult to provide a satisfying answer to this question. I also argue that this difficulty is predicted by recent work in knowledge-first epistemology. I think this shows that recent work in epistemology has important implications for practice in the philosophy of science. It is therefore worth paying closer attention in the philosophy of science to this recent work in knowledge-first epistemology.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 74,480

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Negative Mechanistic Reasoning in Medical Intervention Assessment.Jesper Jerkert - 2015 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 36 (6):425-437.
Mechanisms: What Are They Evidence for in Evidence-Based Medicine?Holly Andersen - 2012 - Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 18 (5):992-999.
Mechanistic Explanation at the Limit.Jonathan Waskan - 2011 - Synthese 183 (3):389-408.
Reasoning and Knowledge.Arthur Frank Walker - 1981 - Dissertation, University of California, Santa Barbara
Mechanisms in Clinical Practice: Use and Justification.Mark R. Tonelli & Jon Williamson - 2020 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 23 (1):115-124.


Added to PP

4 (#1,230,577)

6 months
1 (#417,474)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas Samuel Kuhn - 1962 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Knowledge and its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Oxford University Press.
The Structure of Scientific Revolutions.Thomas S. Kuhn - 1962 - University of Chicago Press.
Thinking About Mechanisms.Peter Machamer, Lindley Darden & Carl F. Craver - 2000 - Philosophy of Science 67 (1):1-25.

View all 32 references / Add more references