AHRC award for 'Evaluating Evidence in Medicine'

29 January 2015

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Professor Jon Williamson from the Department of Philosophy has just won an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) award as Principle Investigator on a new research project which seeks to improve the way that evidence is evaluated in medical research and health policy by developing work in philosophy.

This project, led by the Centre for Reasoning at Kent, also involves researchers at University College London (UCL), the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC).

Recently, Philosophers at Kent and UCL have argued that, in order to establish a causal claim in medicine, one needs to establish not only that there is some correlation between the putative cause and effect but also that there is some underlying mechanism that can explain this correlation. This goes against the current practice of evidence-based medicine, which tends to underplay the role of evidence of mechanisms in favour of statistical evidence of correlation. The AHRC project seeks to improve our understanding of the way in which evidence of mechanisms can aid causal discovery in medicine, with a view to improving the guidelines provided by evidence-based medicine.

The project also aims to broaden the scope of the medical humanities to include medical methodology as a core topic, in which productive interactions can take place between researchers in history and philosophy of medicine and those working in medicine and public health.

Researchers on this project will work alongside those on a Leverhulme-funded project, 'Grading Evidence of Mechanisms in Physics and Biology' to entrench Kent as the hub of exciting new research on quality of evidence.

For more information on the themes of the project and the people involved, please see: and


Philosophy, School of European Culture and Languages, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF

Enquiries: +44 (0)1227 827159 or email Philosophy

Last Updated: 24/01/2014