Mechanisms and the Evidence Hierarchy

Clarke, Brendan and Gillies, Donald and Illari, Phyllis and Russo, Federica and Williamson, Jon (2014) Mechanisms and the Evidence Hierarchy. Topoi, 33 (2). pp. 339-360. ISSN 0167-7411. E-ISSN 1572-8749. (doi: (Full text available)

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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.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BC Logic
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of European Culture and Languages
Depositing User: Jon Williamson
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2014 09:05 UTC
Last Modified: 31 Mar 2016 15:16 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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