Topoi Special Issue: “Foundations of Clinical Reasoning: An Epistemological Stance”

Call For Papers
Topoi: An International Review of Philosophy
Special Issue: “Foundations of Clinical Reasoning: An Epistemological Stance”

Guest Editors:
Mattia Andreoletti (Campus IFOM-IEO, Milan)
Paola Berchialla (University of Turin)
Giovanni Boniolo (University of Ferrara)
Daniele Chiffi (Tallinn University of Technology)
Among the most discussed epistemological issues in clinical reasoning is the problem of the external validity. Considered as one of the most urgent, this problem arises from the fact that the results of the Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) are seldom applied to the whole reference population, which is identified with people needing a medical treatment.

Once verified that the results of an RCT are valid, we still have to explain how to apply these results to patients who did not take part in the experiment. As a matter of fact, several individuals who present particular features are excluded from the groups of patients selected for the experiment. Therefore, how can we justify the belief that a certain treatment has the same effect when applied to a different setting? Without a reasonable answer to this latter question, RCTs would prove less helpful, as they would only show the results related to a particular situation, without any guarantee that the same results could apply to other contexts. The possible advantages of a Bayesian perspective on RCTs will be explored.

Finally, even if a way to apply population-based knowledge to a specific case is acknowledged, in order to choose a suitable treatment for a patient, diagnostic and prognostic judgements are traditionally essential. Both diagnosis and prognosis always occur behind a veil of uncertainty, nonetheless they seem to convey different forms of uncertainty. The concept of diagnosis is, in fact, usually affected by the inductive risk of error, while prognosis seems more likely to be associated with fundamental uncertainty towards a future condition, which may be difficult to probabilistically compute.

Possible Topics include (but are not limited to):
– Logic and Epistemology of Clinical Reasoning
– External validity of RCTs
– Bayesian Forms of Clinical Reasoning
– Diagnosis and inductive risk of error
– Prognosis and severe uncertainty

Invited Contributors:
Ileana Baldi (University of Padua)
Margherita Benzi (University of Eastern Piedmont)
Pierdaniele Giaretta (University of Padua)
Sydney Katherine Green (University of Antwerp)
François Pellet (University of Münster)
Ahti-Veikko Pietarinen (Tallinn University of Technology)
Federica Russo (ILLC/University of Amsterdam)
Donald Stanley (Maine Medical Center, Portland Maine)

Submission guidelines:
Contributions must be original and not submitted elsewhere. Papers must be in English and should not exceed 8,000 words (references and footnotes included). Each submission should also include a separate title page containing contact details, a brief abstract and a list of keywords for indexing purposes. All papers will be subject to double-blind peer-review, following international standard practices. Manuscripts should be submitted exclusively through the Online Manuscript Submission System (Editorial Manager), accessible at Please save your manuscript in one of the formats supported by the system (e.g., Word, WordPerfect, RTF, TXT, LATEX2e, TEX, Postscript, etc.), which does NOT include PDF. Make sure to select the appropriate article type for your submission by selecting: S.I. Foundations clinical reasoning (Andreoletti/Berchialla/Boniolo/Chiffi) as the appropriate tab from the scroll-down menu.

Deadline for submissions: August 31, 2017
For any further information please contact:
Mattia Andreoletti (; Paola Berchialla (; Giovanni Boniolo (; Daniele Chiffi (

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