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Publication - Professor Alexander Bird

    Systematicity, knowledge, and bias. How systematicity made clinical medicine a science

    Citation

    Bird, A, 2019, ‘Systematicity, knowledge, and bias. How systematicity made clinical medicine a science’. Synthese, vol 196., pp. 863-879

    Abstract

    This paper shows that the history of clinical medicine in the eighteenth century supports Paul Hoyningen-Huene’s thesis that there is a correlation between science and systematicity. For example, James Jurin’s assessment of the safety of variolation as a protection against smallpox adopted a systematic approach to the assessment of interventions in order to eliminate sources of cognitive bias that would compromise inquiry. Clinical medicine thereby became a science. I use this confirming instance to motivate a broader hypothesis, that systematicity is a distinctive feature of science because systematicity is required by processes of knowledge generation that go beyond our everyday cognitive capacities, and these processes are required to produce knowledge of the kinds that science aims at.

    Full details in the University publications repository