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Systematicity, knowledge, and bias. How systematicity made clinical medicine a science

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)863
Number of pages879
Early online date9 Mar 2017
Accepted/In press16 Feb 2017
E-pub ahead of print9 Mar 2017


King's Authors


This paper shows that the history of clinical medicine in the eighteenth
century supports Paul Hoyningen-Huene’s thesis that there is a correlation between science and systematicity. For example, James Jurin’s assessment of the safety of variolation as a protection against smallpox adopted a systematic approach to the assessment of interventions in order to eliminate sources of cognitive bias that would compromise inquiry. Clinical medicine thereby became a science. I use this confirming instance to motivate a broader hypothesis, that systematicity is a distinctive feature
of science because systematicity is required by processes of knowledge generation that go beyond our everyday cognitive capacities, and these processes are required to produce knowledge of the kinds that science aims at.

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