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Author Information: Sharyn Clough, Oregon State University,

Clough, Sharyn. “Feminist Theories of Evidence and Biomedical Research Communities: A Reply to Goldenberg.” Social Epistemology Review and Reply Collective 2, no. 12 (2013): 72-76.

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In a recent essay — “How Can Feminist Theories of Evidence Assist Clinical Reasoning and Decision-making?” — Maya Goldenberg discusses criticisms of evidence-based medicine (or EBM) (Goldenberg 2013). She is particularly interested in those criticisms that make use of an epistemic appeal to the underdetermination of theory by evidence. That the choice of medical treatment regimens, for example, is often, if not always, underdetermined by the experimental evidence, suggests that something in addition to the evidence must be at play when treatments are championed by EBM protocols. Values, or other biases, are often mentioned as additional factors. In these cases, we have reason to be suspicious of claims to value-neutrality and objectivity that are often used to promote evidence-based medicine. Interestingly, she notes, it is feminist philosophers who most often critically deploy underdetermination theory, though they also typically offer a solution: all is not lost, some kind of objectivity can still be salvaged in research contexts. The solution typically involves reconfiguring notions of objectivity as a property of democratic and diverse research communities.  Continue Reading…