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Broadening the Scope of Our Understanding of Mechanisms: Lessons from the History of the Morning-After Pill

ChoGlueck, Christopher (2019) Broadening the Scope of Our Understanding of Mechanisms: Lessons from the History of the Morning-After Pill. [Preprint]

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Abstract

Philosophers of science and medicine now aspire to provide useful, socially relevant accounts of mechanism. Existing accounts have forged the path by attending to mechanisms in historical context, scientific practice, the special sciences, and policy. Yet, their primary focus has been on more proximate issues related to therapeutic effectiveness. To take the next step toward social relevance, we must investigate the challenges facing researchers, clinicians, and policy makers involving values and social context. Accordingly, we learn valuable lessons about the connections between mechanistic processes and more fundamental reasons for (or against) medical interventions, particularly moral, ethical, religious, and political concerns about health, agency, and power. This paper uses debates over the controversial morning-after pill (emergency contraception) to gain insight into the deeper reasons for the production and use of mechanistic knowledge throughout biomedical research, clinical practice, and governmental regulation. To practice socially relevant philosophy of science, I argue that we need to account for mechanistic knowledge beyond immediate effectiveness, such as how it can also provide moral guidance, aid ethical categorization in the clinic, and function as a political instrument. Such insights have implications for medical epistemology, including the value-laden dimensions of mechanistic reasoning and the “epistemic friction” of values. Furthermore, there are broader impacts for teaching research ethics and understanding the role of science advisors as political advocates.


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Item Type: Preprint
Creators:
CreatorsEmailORCID
ChoGlueck, Christophercglueck@iu.edu0000-0002-6095-2105
Keywords: mechanism, pharmacology, medical epistemology, therapeutic effectiveness, science and values, socially relevant philosophy of science
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Ethical Issues
Specific Sciences > Medicine
General Issues > Science and Religion
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Science and Policy
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Depositing User: Dr. Christopher ChoGlueck
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2019 15:38
Last Modified: 01 Apr 2019 15:38
Item ID: 15867
Subjects: Specific Sciences > Biology
General Issues > Ethical Issues
Specific Sciences > Medicine
General Issues > Science and Religion
General Issues > Science and Society
General Issues > Science and Policy
General Issues > Social Epistemology of Science
General Issues > Technology
General Issues > Values In Science
Date: 2019
URI: http://philsci-archive.pitt.edu/id/eprint/15867

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