•  734
    In this thesis, I give a metascientific account of causality in medicine. I begin with two historical cases of causal discovery. These are the discovery of the causation of Burkitt’s lymphoma by the Epstein-Barr virus, and of the various viral causes suggested for cervical cancer. These historical cases then support a philosophical discussion of causality in medicine. This begins with an introduction to the Russo- Williamson thesis (RWT), and discussion of a range of counter-arguments against it…Read more
  •  247
    In this paper, I offer one example of conceptual change. Specifically, I contend that the discovery that viruses could cause cancer represents an excellent example of branch jumping, one of Thagard’s nine forms of conceptual change. Prior to about 1960, cancer was generally regarded as a degenerative, chronic, non-infectious disease. Cancer causation was therefore usually held to be a gradual process of accumulating cellular damage, caused by relatively non-specific component causes, acting ove…Read more
  •  227
    Causation and melanoma classification
    Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 32 (1): 19-32. 2011.
    In this article, I begin by giving a brief history of melanoma causation. I then discuss the current manner in which malignant melanoma is classified. In general, these systems of classification do not take account of the manner of tumour causation. Instead, they are based on phenomenological features of the tumour, such as size, spread, and morphology. I go on to suggest that misclassification of melanoma is a major problem in clinical practice. I therefore outline an alternative means of class…Read more
  •  222
    Mechanisms and the Evidence Hierarchy
    with Donald Gillies, Phyllis Illari, Federica Russo, and Jon Williamson
    Topoi 33 (2): 339-360. 2014.
    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 mecha…Read more
  •  178
    Modelling mechanisms with causal cycles
    Synthese 191 (8): 1-31. 2014.
    Mechanistic philosophy of science views a large part of scientific activity as engaged in modelling mechanisms. While science textbooks tend to offer qualitative models of mechanisms, there is increasing demand for models from which one can draw quantitative predictions and explanations. Casini et al. (Theoria 26(1):5–33, 2011) put forward the Recursive Bayesian Networks (RBN) formalism as well suited to this end. The RBN formalism is an extension of the standard Bayesian net formalism, an exten…Read more
  •  119
    Metabolic theories of Whipple disease
    with Oscar Morice, Mathew Elameer, Mina Arsanious, Helen Stephens, Eleanor Soutter, and Thomas Hughes
    Whipple disease is a rare, infectious, disease first described from a single case by Whipple in 1907. As well as characterising the clinical and pathological features of the condition, Whipple made two suggestions regarding its aetiology. These were either than the disease was caused by an infectious agent, or that it was of metabolic origin. As the disease is now thought to be caused by infection with the bacterium Tropheryma whipplei, historical reviews of the history of the disease typically …Read more
  •  55
    According to current hierarchies of evidence for EBM, evidence of correlation is always more important than evidence of mechanisms when evaluating and establishing causal claims. We argue that evidence of mechanisms needs to be treated alongside evidence of correlation. This is for three reasons. First, correlation is always a fallible indicator of causation, subject in particular to the problem of confounding; evidence of mechanisms can in some cases be more important than evidence of correlati…Read more
  •  24
    A Radical Approach to Ebola: Saving Humans and Other Animals
    with Sarah J. L. Edwards, Charles H. Norell, Phyllis Illari, and Carolyn P. Neuhaus
    American Journal of Bioethics 18 (10): 35-42. 2018.
    As the usual regulatory framework did not fit well during the last Ebola outbreak, innovative thinking still needed. In the absence of an outbreak, randomised controlled trials of clinical efficacy in humans cannot be done, while during an outbreak such trials will continue to face significant practical, philosophical, and ethical challenges. This article argues that researchers should also test the safety and effectiveness of novel vaccines in wild apes by employing a pluralistic approach to ev…Read more
  •  20
    Making sense of failure (review)
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48 122-125. 2014.
    Essay review of C. Timmermann A history of lung cancer: The recalcitrant disease (Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke (2014)) and C. Timmermann, E. Toon (Eds.), Cancer patients, cancer pathways: historical and social perspectives (Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke (2012))
  •  12
    Mapping the methodologies of Burkitt lymphoma
    Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48 210-217. 2014.