Theoretical Medicine

, Volume 16, Issue 2, pp 183–198

The legitimacy of clinical knowledge: Towards a medical epistemology embracing the art of medicine

  • Kirsti Malterud


The traditional medical epistemology, resting on a biomedical paradigmatic monopoly, fails to display an adequate representation of medical knowledge. Clinical knowledge, including the complexities of human interaction, is not available for inquiry by means of biomedical approaches, and consequently is denied legitimacy within a scientific context. A gap results between medical research and clinical practice. Theories of knowledge, especially the concept of tacit knowing, seem suitable for description and discussion of clinical knowledge, commonly denoted “the art of medicine.” A metaposition allows for inquiry of clinical knowledge, inviting an expansion of the traditional medical epistemology, provided that relevant criteria for scientific knowledge within this field are developed and applied. The consequences of such approaches are discussed.

Key words

clinical knowledge epistemology scientific knowledge art of medicine tacit knowing validity criteria 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kirsti Malterud
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of General Practice, Department of Public Health and Primary Health CareUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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