• Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Medicine (edited book)
    Oxford University Press. forthcoming.
  •  16
    Causation
    Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy. 2020.
    Causation The question, “What is causation?” may sound like a trivial question—it is as sure as common knowledge can ever be that some things cause another; that there are causes and they necessitate certain effects. We say that we know that what caused the president’s death was an assassin’s shot. But when asked why, we … Continue reading Causation →
  •  5
    Disease as a Theoretical Concept: The Case of HPV-It Is
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48 250-257. 2014.
    If there is any value in the idea that disease is something other than the mere absence of health then that value must lie in the way that diseases are classified. This paper offers further development of a view advanced previously, the 'contrastive model' of disease: it develops the account to handle asymptomatic disease ; and in doing so it relates the model to a broadly biostatistical view of health. The developments are prompted by considering cancers featuring viruses as prominent causes, s…Read more
  • When graduate students start their studies, they usually have sound knowledge of some areas of philosophy, but the overall map of their knowledge is often patchy and disjointed. There are a number of topics that any contemporary philosopher working in any part of the analytic tradition needs to grasp, and to grasp as a coherent whole rather than a rag-bag of interesting but isolated discussions. This book answers this need, by providing a overview of core topics in metaphysics and epistemology t…Read more
  •  3
    Philosophy of Medicine
    Oup Usa. 2019.
    Philosophy of Medicine provides a fresh and comprehensive treatment of the topic. It offers a novel theory of the nature of medicine, and proposes a new attitude to medicine, aimed at improving the quality of debates between medical traditions and facilitating medicine's decolonization.
  •  19
    The C-word, the P-word, and realism in epidemiology
    Synthese 198 (Suppl 10): 2613-2628. 2019.
    This paper considers an important recent contribution by Miguel Hernán to the ongoing debate about causal inference in epidemiology. Hernán rejects the idea that there is an in-principle epistemic distinction between the results of randomized controlled trials and observational studies: both produce associations which we may be more or less confident interpreting as causal. However, Hernán maintains that trials have a semantic advantage. Observational studies that seek to estimate causal effect …Read more
  •  26
    Prediction, Understanding, and Medicine
    Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 43 (3): 289-305. 2018.
    What is medicine? One obvious answer in the context of the contemporary clinical tradition is that medicine is the process of curing sick people. However, this “curative thesis” is not satisfactory, even when “cure” is defined generously and even when exceptions such as cosmetic surgery are set aside. Historian of medicine Roy Porter argues that the position of medicine in society has had, and still has, little to do with its ability to make people better. Moreover, the efficacy of medicine for …Read more
  •  10
    This article is a reply to two critics of my “Prediction, Understanding, and Medicine,” published elsewhere in this journal issue. In that essay, I argued that medicine is best understood not as essentially a curative enterprise, but rather as one essentially oriented towards prediction and understanding. Here, I defend this position from several criticisms made of it.
  •  47
    Health as a Secondary Property
    British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (2): 609-627. 2019.
    In the literature on health, naturalism and normativism are typically characterized as espousing and rejecting, respectively, the view that health is objective and value-free. This article points out that there are two distinct dimensions of disagreement, regarding objectivity and value-ladenness, and thus arranges naturalism and normativism as diagonal opposites on a two-by-two matrix of possible positions. One of the remaining quadrants is occupied by value-dependent realism, holding that heal…Read more
  •  10
    For analytic bioethics
    Clinical Ethics 3 (4): 185-188. 2008.
    This paper argues that bioethics requires analysis, which is not explicitly ethical in character. The first part of the paper argues the general point, that ethical problems can arise not only on occasions when moral values make conflicting recommendations, but also in understanding the facts. I suggest that this is particularly so where the facts are provided by the biomedical sciences, since it is often not clear how to relate their conceptual framework to that in which we frame our value judg…Read more
  •  51
    Beyond bioethics: the 5th International Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable
    Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 36 (1): 1-5. 2015.
    We are pleased to once again present to the readers of Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics papers from the Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable. Previous issues have followed the 3rd and 4th Roundtables, and the current issue presents a selection from the more than 20 papers presented at the 5th Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable, which took place in New York, at Columbia University, in November 2013. Like its predecessors, held in Birmingham, AL, Rotterdam, and San Sebastian, this Roundtable attract…Read more
  •  35
    Epidemiological evidence in proof of specific causation
    Legal Theory 17 (4): 237-278. 2011.
    This paper seeks to determine the significance, if any, of epidemiological evidence to prove the specific causation element of liability in negligence or other relevant torts—in particular, what importance can be attached to a relative risk > 2, where that figure represents a sound causal inference at the general level. The paper discusses increased risk approaches to epidemiological evidence and concludes that they are a last resort. The paper also criticizes the proposal that the probability o…Read more
  •  1690
    Inferring causation in epidemiology: mechanisms, black boxes, and contrasts
    In Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (eds.), Causality in the Sciences, Oxford University Press. pp. 45--69. 2011.
    This chapter explores the idea that causal inference is warranted if and only if the mechanism underlying the inferred causal association is identified. This mechanistic stance is discernible in the epidemiological literature, and in the strategies adopted by epidemiologists seeking to establish causal hypotheses. But the exact opposite methodology is also discernible, the black box stance, which asserts that epidemiologists can and should make causal inferences on the basis of their evidence, w…Read more
  •  92
    The difference between cause and condition
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 108 (1pt3): 355-364. 2008.
    Commonly we distinguish the strike of a match, as a cause of the match lighting, from the presence of oxygen, as a mere condition. In this paper I propose an account of this phenomenon, which I call causal selection. I suggest some reasons for taking causal selection seriously, and indicate some shortcomings of the popular contrastive approach. Chief among these is the lack of an account of contrast choice. I propose that contrast choice is often just the counterfactual scenario in which the eff…Read more
  •  785
    Causes of causes
    Philosophical Studies 158 (3): 457-476. 2012.
    When is a cause of a cause of an effect also a cause of that effect? The right answer is either Sometimes or Always . In favour of Always , transitivity is considered by some to be necessary for distinguishing causes from redundant non-causal events. Moreover transitivity may be motivated by an interest in an unselective notion of causation, untroubled by principles of invidious discrimination. And causal relations appear to add up like transitive relations, so that the obtaining of the overarch…Read more
  •  1074
    Fact and Law in the Causal Inquiry
    Legal Theory 15 (3): 173-191. 2009.
    This paper takes it as a premise that a distinction between matters of fact and of law is important in the causal inquiry. But it argues that separating factual and legal causation as different elements of liability is not the best way to implement the fact/law distinction. What counts as a cause-in-fact is partly a legal question; and certain liability-limiting doctrines under the umbrella of “legal causation” depend on the application of factual-causal concepts. The contrastive account of fact…Read more
  •  1291
    Prediction in epidemiology and medicine
    with Jonathan Fuller and Luis J. Flores
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. 2015.
  •  29
    Disease as a theoretical concept: The case of “HPV-itis”
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48 250-257. 2014.
  •  2
    When graduate students start their studies, they usually have sound knowledge of some areas of philosophy, but the overall map of their knowledge is often patchy and disjointed. There are a number of topics that any contemporary philosopher working in any part of the analytic tradition needs to grasp, and to grasp as a coherent whole rather than a rag-bag of interesting but isolated discussions. This book answers this need, by providing a overview of core topics in metaphysics and epistemology t…Read more
  •  130
    Causation and models of disease in epidemiology
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40 (4): 302-311. 2009.
    Nineteenth-century medical advances were entwined with a conceptual innovation: the idea that many cases of disease which were previously thought to have diverse causes could be explained by the action of a single kind of cause, for example a certain bacterial or parasitic infestation. The focus of modern epidemiology, however, is on chronic non-communicable diseases, which frequently do not seem to be attributable to any single causal factor. This paper is an effort to resolve the resulting ten…Read more
  •  40
    Prediction in epidemiology and medicine
    with Jonathan Fuller and Luis J. Flores
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 54 45-48. 2015.
  •  14
    Explanation and Responsibility
    In Markus Stepanians & Benedikt Kahmen (eds.), Critical Essays on "Causation and Responsibility", De Gruyter. pp. 239-252. 2013.
  •  896
    Defining Neglected Disease
    Biosocieties 6 (1): 51-70. 2011.
    In this article I seek to say what it is for something to count as a neglected disease. I argue that neglect should be defined in terms of efforts at prevention, mitigation and cure, and not solely in terms of research dollars per disability-adjusted life-year. I further argue that the trend towards multifactorialism and risk factor thinking in modern epidemiology has lent credibility to the erroneous view that the primary problem with neglected diseases is a lack of research. A more restrictive…Read more
  •  126
    Reversing the counterfactual analysis of causation
    International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15 (2). 2007.
    The counterfactual analysis of causation has focused on one particular counterfactual conditional, taking as its starting-point the suggestion that C causes E iff (C E). In this paper, some consequences are explored of reversing this counterfactual, and developing an account starting with the idea that C causes E iff (E C). This suggestion is discussed in relation to the problem of pre-emption. It is found that the 'reversed' counterfactual analysis can handle even the most difficult cases of pr…Read more
  •  38
    Causation and prediction in epidemiology: A guide to the “Methodological Revolution”
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 54 72-80. 2015.