Rethinking the BSE Crisis

A Study of Scientific Reasoning under Uncertainty

  • Louise Cummings

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xv
  2. Louise Cummings
    Pages 1-33
  3. Louise Cummings
    Pages 35-56
  4. Louise Cummings
    Pages 57-85
  5. Louise Cummings
    Pages 87-115
  6. Louise Cummings
    Pages 117-138
  7. Louise Cummings
    Pages 139-163
  8. Louise Cummings
    Pages 193-221
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 223-242

About this book


In 1986, the emergence of a novel brain disease in British cattle presented a unique challenge to scientists. How that challenge was addressed has been the subject of a public inquiry and numerous academic studies conducted to date. However, none of these investigations has sought to examine the reasoning of scientists during this critical period in the public health of the UK. Using concepts and techniques in informal logic, argumentation and fallacy theory, this study reconstructs and evaluates the reasoning of scientists in the ten-year period between 1986 and 1996. Specifically, a form of presumptive reasoning is described in which extensive use is made of arguments traditionally identified as informal fallacies. In the context of the adverse epistemic conditions that confronted scientists during the BSE epidemic, these arguments were anything but fallacious, serving instead to confer a number of epistemic gains upon scientific inquiry. This book argues for a closer integration of philosophy with public health science, an integration that is exemplified by the case of scientific reasoning during the BSE affair. It will therefore be of interest to advanced students, academics, researchers and professionals in the areas of public health science and epidemiology, as well as philosophical disciplines such as informal logic, argumentation and fallacy theory and epistemology.


Epidemiological Epidemiology Public Health argue epistemology formal logic knowledge logic reason science subject

Authors and affiliations

  • Louise Cummings
    • 1
  1. 1., School of Arts and HumanitiesNottingham Trent UniversityNottinghamUnited Kingdom

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010
  • Publisher Name Springer, Dordrecht
  • eBook Packages Medicine Medicine (R0)
  • Print ISBN 978-90-481-9503-9
  • Online ISBN 978-90-481-9504-6
  • Buy this book on publisher's site