Portrait of Dr Michael Wilde

Dr Michael Wilde

Lecturer in Philosophy
Admissions Officer


Dr Michael Wilde was appointed Lecturer in Philosophy in June 2018. In September 2019 he was appointed as Admissions Officer for the Department of Philosophy. 

Michael's virtual office hours take place on Friday 11.00-13.00 via Zoom.

Research interests

Michael works mainly in epistemology and the philosophy of science. His recent research develops a theory of evidence to help understand how causal claims are established in medicine. His recent co-authored book is Evaluating Evidence of Mechanisms in Medicine (Springer, 2018).  


Michael teaches medical methodology, the philosophy of probability and causality, the theory of evidence, and the philosophy of language. He is currently supervising postgraduate work on epistemology and the philosophy of medicine. 



  • Auker-Howlett, D. and Wilde, M. (2019). Reinforced reasoning in medicine. Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice [Online]. Available at: https://dx.doi.org/10.1111/jep.13269.
    Some philosophers have argued that evidence of underlying mechanisms does not provide evidence for the effectiveness of a medical intervention. One such argument appeals to the unreliability of mechanistic reasoning. However, mechanistic reasoning is not the only way that evidence of mechanisms might provide evidence of effectiveness. A more reliable type of reasoning may be distinguished by appealing to recent work on evidential pluralism in the epistemology of medicine. A case study from virology provides an example of this so‐called reinforced reasoning in medicine. It is argued that in this case study, the available evidence of underlying mechanisms did in fact play a role in providing evidence in favour of a medical intervention. This paper therefore adds a novel and recent case study to the literature in support of evidential pluralism in medicine.
  • Wilde, M. and Parkkinen, V. (2019). Extrapolation and the Russo–Williamson thesis. Synthese [Online] 196:3251-3262. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-017-1573-y.
    A particular tradition in medicine claims that a variety of evidence is helpful in determining whether an observed correlation is causal. In line with this tradition, it has been claimed that establishing a causal claim in medicine requires both probabilistic and mechanistic evidence. This claim has been put forward by Federica Russo and Jon Williamson. As a result, it is sometimes called the Russo–Williamson thesis. In support of this thesis, Russo and Williamson appeal to the practice of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). However, this practice presents some problematic cases for the Russo–Williamson thesis. One response to such cases is to argue in favour of reforming these practices. In this paper, we propose an alternative response according to which such cases are in fact consistent with the Russo–Williamson thesis. This response requires maintaining that there is a role for mechanism-based extrapolation in the practice of the IARC. However, the response works only if this mechanism-based extrapolation is reliable, and some have argued against the reliability of mechanism-based extrapolation. Against this, we provide some reasons for believing that reliable mechanism-based extrapolation is going on in the practice of the IARC. The reasons are provided by appealing to the role of robustness analysis.


  • Parkkinen, V., Wallmann, C., Wilde, M., Clarke, B., Illari, P., Kelly, M., Norell, C., Russo, F., Shaw, B. and Williamson, J. (2018). Evaluating Evidence of Mechanisms in Medicine: Principles and Procedures. [Online]. Springer Netherlands. Available at: https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007/978-3-319-94610-8#about.
    This book is the first to develop explicit methods for evaluating evidence of mechanisms in the field of medicine. It explains why it can be important to make this evidence explicit, and describes how to take such evidence into account in the evidence appraisal process. In addition, it develops procedures for seeking evidence of mechanisms, for evaluating evidence of mechanisms, and for combining this evaluation with evidence of association in order to yield an overall assessment of effectiveness.

    Evidence-based medicine seeks to achieve improved health outcomes by making evidence explicit and by developing explicit methods for evaluating it. To date, evidence-based medicine has largely focused on evidence of association produced by clinical studies. As such, it has tended to overlook evidence of pathophysiological mechanisms and evidence of the mechanisms of action of interventions.

    The book offers a useful guide for all those whose work involves evaluating evidence in the health sciences, including those who need to determine the effectiveness of health interventions and those who need to ascertain the effects of environmental exposures.


  • Auker-Howlett, D. and Wilde, M. (2019). Causality in medicine, and its relation to action, mechanisms, and probability. Metascience [Online]. Available at: https://doi.org/10.1007/s11016-019-00430-0.
  • Wilde, M. (2017). Making Medical Knowledge. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science Reviews [Online]. Available at: https://bjpsbooks.wordpress.com/2017/04/11/miriam-solomon-making-medical-knowledge/.
Last updated