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Establishing causal claims in medicine

Williamson, Jon (2019) Establishing causal claims in medicine. International Studies in the Philosophy of Science, 32 (1). pp. 33-61. ISSN 0269-8595. (doi:10.1080/02698595.2019.1630927) (KAR id:66357)

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Russo and Williamson (2007) 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 (EBM), 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.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1080/02698595.2019.1630927
Projects: Establishing causal claims in medicine
Uncontrolled keywords: Medical methodology, evidence-based medicine, mechanisms, Russo-Williamson Thesis
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BC Logic
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of Culture and Languages
Funders: Arts and Humanities Research Council (
Depositing User: Jon Williamson
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2018 08:55 UTC
Last Modified: 04 Mar 2024 19:05 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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