pp 1–8 | Cite as

What’s Going to Happen to Me? Prognosis in the Face of Uncertainty

  • Daniele ChiffiEmail author
  • Mattia Andreoletti


Reasoning in medicine requires the critical use of a clinical methodology whose validity must be evaluated as well as its limits. In the last decade, an increasing amount of evidence has shown severe limitations and flaws in the conduct of prognostic studies. The main reason behind this fact is that prognostic judgments are at high risk of error. In this paper we investigate the pragmatic and illocutionary aspects of different forms of linguistic acts and judgments involved in clinical practice. More specifically, we analyze the role of (fundamental) uncertainty with regard to ‘particular’ clinical judgments and its relation with ‘general’ evidence. Focusing on how prognostic judgments are formulated and justified, our main purpose is to highlight the explication, the structure and the limits of prognosis from a linguistic and epistemological perspective.


Prognosis Uncertainty Evidence Illocutionary acts Clinical reasoning Philosophy of medicine 



We thank Pierdaniele Giaretta, Fabrizio Macagno and Carlo Martini, as well as two anonymous referees for their suggestions. The work of Daniele Chiffi was supported by the Project PTDC/MHC-FIL/0521/2014 of the Portuguese Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia and by the “Dipartimento di Eccellenza” project “Fragilità Territoriali” (MIUR 2018-2022). The work of Mattia Andreoletti was funded by ERC Starting Investigator Grant No. 640638.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.DAStUMilanItaly
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy and Educational Sciences, University of TurinTurinItaly

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