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Rethinking Causality, Complexity and Evidence for the Unique Patient

A CauseHealth Resource for Healthcare Professionals and the Clinical Encounter

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  • © 2020

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  • The first book to apply the novel framework of causal dispositionalism to the clinic
  • A multidisciplinary book dealing with the philosophical biases that tacitly motivate evidence based and person centered clinical practice
  • The only book bringing together philosophers and clinicians on the much debated issue of how causal evidence should be understood and used in the clinic

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About this book

This open access book is a unique resource for health professionals who are interested in understanding the philosophical foundations of their daily practice. It provides tools for untangling the motivations and rationality behind the way medicine and healthcare is studied, evaluated and practiced. In particular, it illustrates the impact that thinking about causation, complexity and evidence has on the clinical encounter. The book shows how medicine is grounded in philosophical assumptions that could at least be challenged. By engaging with ideas that have shaped the medical profession, clinicians are empowered to actively take part in setting the premises for their own practice and knowledge development. Written in an engaging and accessible style, with contributions from experienced clinicians, this book presents a new philosophical framework that takes causal complexity, individual variation and medical uniqueness as default expectations for health and illness.

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Table of contents (16 chapters)

  1. Philosophical Framework

Editors and Affiliations

  • NMBU Centre for Applied Philosophy of Science, Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Ås, Norway

    Rani Lill Anjum, Elena Rocca

  • Ethics and Philosophy of Technology Section, Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

    Samantha Copeland

About the editors

Rani Lill Anjum is Researcher in Philosophy and Principal Investigator of CauseHealth at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). She leads the NMBU Centre for Applied Philosophy of Science together with Elena Rocca, where she works on the philosophical foundations of science with focus on causality, probability and dispositions. Anjum has written four books with Stephen Mumford: Getting Causes from Powers, Causation – A Very Short Introduction and Causation in Science and the Methods of Scientific Discovery, published with Oxford University Press, and What Tends to Be. The Philosophy of Dispositional Modality with Routledge.

Samantha Copeland is Assistant Professor in the Ethics and Philosophy of Technology section at Delft University of Technology. She was a postdoctoral fellow with the CauseHealth project and is on the editorial board for the annual philosophy thematic of the Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice. Copeland has published on the ethics of addressing unexpected results in clinical research that involves human subjects, including ‘The case of the triggered memory: serendipitous discovery and the ethics of clinical research’ and ‘Unexpected findings and promoting monocausal claims, a cautionary tale’. She is also co-author of ‘Pharmacovigilance as scientific discovery: an argument for trans-disciplinarity’, written with Ralph Edwards and Elena Rocca.


Elena Rocca is an interdisciplinary Researcher with background in pharmacy, biology and theory of science at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU). She is Principal Investigator of the project CauseHealth Risk and Safety and leads the Centre of Applied Philosophy of Science with Rani Anjum. She is on the editorial board of the International Journal of Risk and Safety in Medicine. Rocca is interested in the role of philosophical bias in the production and evaluation of evidence. She is author of ‘The evidence that evidence based medicine adopts’, ‘Bridging the boundary between scientists and clinicians’, and co-author of ‘Real or ideal risk? Philosophy of causation meets risk analysis’ with Rani Anjum.

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Rethinking Causality, Complexity and Evidence for the Unique Patient

  • Book Subtitle: A CauseHealth Resource for Healthcare Professionals and the Clinical Encounter

  • Editors: Rani Lill Anjum, Samantha Copeland, Elena Rocca

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Religion and Philosophy, Philosophy and Religion (R0)

  • Copyright Information: The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2020

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-030-41238-8Published: 03 June 2020

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-030-41241-8Published: 18 September 2020

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-030-41239-5Published: 02 June 2020

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XXII, 241

  • Number of Illustrations: 21 b/w illustrations, 9 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Bioethics, Theory of Medicine/Bioethics

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