Argumenta – Journal of Analytic Philosophy


Modeling Pandemic: Proximate and Ultimate Causes [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 13 • Author/s: Federico Boem
Topics: Ecology, Epidemiology, Epistemology, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of science

In the understanding and prediction of a pandemic phenomenon, epidemiology is obviously the dedicated discipline. However, epidemiological models look at what we might call the proximate causes of the pandemic. On the other hand, the ultimate causes, those of an ecological, evolutionary, and socio-economic nature, are often too simplified or reduced to “minor” variables in epidemiological models. In this article, in dealing with a pandemic, we want to support the need to extend the study and design of responses to the ultimate causes and the disciplines that investigate them, with…

Vaccination Uptake Interventions: An EBM+ Approach [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 13 • Author/s: Daniel Auker-Howlett, Jon Williamson
Topics: Epidemiology, Epistemology, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of science

As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, barriers to vaccination uptake are heterogeneous and vary according to the local context. We argue that a more systematic consideration of local social and behavioural mechanisms could improve the development, assessment and refinement of vaccination uptake interventions. The EBM+ approach to evidence appraisal, which is a development of a recent line of work on the epistemology of causality, provides a means to evaluate mechanistic studies and their role in assessing the effectiveness of an intervention. We argue that an EBM+ methodology offers several potential…

The Strange Numbers of Covid-19 [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 13 • Author/s: Annibale Biggeri, Andrea Saltelli
Topics: Epidemiology, Epistemology, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of science

Never as with the present pandemics, numbers and the attendant activities of measuring and modelling have taken centre-stage. Yet these numbers, often delivered by academicians and media alike with extraordinary precision, rely on a rich repertoire of assumptions, including forms of bias, that can significantly skew both the numbers per se and the trust we repose in them. We discuss the issue in relation to a particular case relative to the numbers on excess mortality during the first wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in Italy. We conclude with some considerations…

The Immunity Capital [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 13 • Author/s: Paolo Vineis, Andrea Saltelli
Topics: Epidemiology, Epistemology, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of science

This paper is inspired by a thesis on “immune capital” by Kathryn Olivarius. We suggest that the biological capital, which immunity capital is part of, should be considered as an additional component of the life-course experience of individuals, together with the traditional Bourdieu’s social, economic and cultural capitals that drive their lives. Building upon this concept, we consider the relationships between science, society and policy-making in the course of the pandemic. We suggest that we need to ‘reframe problems so that their ethical dimensions are brought to light’ (Jasanoff), with…

Making Best Use of the Available Evidence: Mechanistic Evidence and the Management of the Covid-19 Pandemic [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 13 • Author/s: Virginia Ghiara
Topics: Epidemiology, Epistemology, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of science

In this paper, I argue that evidence of biological and socio-behavioural mechanisms can contribute to the management of Covid-19. I discuss two examples that show how scientists are using different forms of evidence, among which mechanistic evidence, to answer questions about the efficacy of vaccines against Covid-19 and the effectiveness of vaccination interventions in different contexts. In the first example I claim that, due to the fast pace of the pandemic, mechanistic reasoning and evidence of biological mechanisms play an important role in the study of vaccines’ efficacy and the…

Monitoring the Safety of Medicines and Vaccines in Times of Pandemic: Practical, Conceptual, and Ethical Challenges in Pharmacovigilance [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 13 • Author/s: Elena Rocca, Birgitta Grundmark
Topics: Epidemiology, Epistemology, Moral Philosophy, Philosophy of Medicine, Philosophy of science

In this paper, we analyse some of the challenges that pharmacovigilance, the science of detecting and assessing possible adverse reactions from medical interventions, is facing during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, we consider the issue of increased uncertainty of the evidence and the issue of dealing with an unprecedented amount of data. After presenting the technical advances implemented in response to these two challenges, we offer some conceptual reflections around such practical changes. We argue that the COVID-19 emergency represents a chance to push forward critical thinking in the field…

Conscious Experiences as Ultimate Seemings: Renewing the Phenomenal Concept Strategy [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 02 • Author/s: François Kammerer
Topics: Epistemology, Philosophy of mind

The Phenomenal Concept Strategy is a popular strategy used to support physicalism in the realm of conscious experience. This Strategy accounts for dualist intuitions but uses the ways in which we think about our experiences to explain these intuitions in a physicalist framework, without any appeal to ontological dualism. In this paper, I will raise two issues related to the currently available versions of the Phenomenal Concept Strategy. First, most of the theories belonging to the Phenomenal Concept Strategy posit that phenomenal concepts are exceptional and sui generis concepts, and…

Williamson on the psychological view [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 02 • Author/s: Serena Maria Nicoli
Topics: Epistemology, Meta-Philosophy, Philosophy of mind

What is the nature of the evidence provided by thinking about hypothetical cases, such as those presented in the thought experiments (TE)? Is it psychological, as those who speak about intuitions seem to think, or not? This problem is closely related to that of the nature of the subject matter of philosophy, that most philosophers tend to conceive as non-psychological. Williamson’s position on the matter (Williamson 2007) consists in rejecting the psychological view on intuitions: if we want this method—the armchair method—to provide us with evidence in favour or contra…

Undermining Defeat and Propositional Justification [Special Issue]

Issue: Issue 02 • Author/s: Giacomo Melis
Topics: Epistemology, Philosophy of language, Philosophy of mind

I extend the Higher-Order View of Undermining Defeat (HOVUD) defended in Melis (2014) to account for the defeat of propositional justification. In doing so, I also clarify the important notion of higher-order commitment, and I make some considerations concerning the defeat of externalist epistemic warrants.

Putnam on Methods of Inquiry

Issue: Issue 03 • Author/s: Gary Ebbs
Topics: Epistemology, History of Analytic Philosophy

Hilary Putnam’s paradigm-changing clarifications of our methods of inquiry in science and everyday life are central to his philosophy. He takes for granted that the judgments of scientists are for the most part reasonable and not in need of philosophical support, and that no part of our supposed knowledge is unrevisable or guaranteed to be true. He infers from key episodes in the history of science that our language contains terms whose references may remain unchanged despite radical changes in our theories, and that some statements are so basic for…
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