Evidence: philosophy of science meets medicine

Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 16 (2):356-362 (2010)
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Abstract

Obviously medicine should be evidence-based. The issues lie in the details: what exactly counts as evidence? Do certain kinds of evidence carry more weight than others? And how exactly should medicine be based on evidence? When it comes to these details, the evidence-based medicine movement has got itself into a mess – or so it will be argued. In order to start to resolve this mess, we need to go 'back to basics'; and that means turning to the philosophy of science. The theory of evidence, or rather the logic of the interrelations between theory and evidence, has always been central to the philosophy of science – sometimes under the alias of the 'theory of confirmation'. When taken together with a little philosophical commonsense, this logic can help us move towards a position on evidence in medicine that is more sophisticated and defensible than anything that EBM has been able so far to supply.

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