Complexity and integration. A philosophical analysis of how cancer complexity can be faced in the era of precision medicine

  • Giovanni BonioloEmail author
  • Raffaella Campaner
Paper in the Philosophy of the Biomedical Sciences


Complexity and integration are longstanding widely debated issues in philosophy of science and recent contributions have largely focused on biology and biomedicine. This paper specifically considers some methodological novelties in cancer research, motivated by various features of tumours as complex diseases, and shows how they encourage some rethinking of philosophical discourses on those topics. In particular, we discuss the integrative-cluster approach, and analyse its potential in the epistemology of cancer. We suggest that, far from being the solution to tame cancer complexity, this approach offers a philosophically interesting new manner of considering integration, and show how it can help addressing the apparent contrast between a pluralistic and a unitary account.


Complexity Integration Cancer Precision medicine 



We would like to thanks the four anonymous referees, whose comments have been very useful to improve early versions of the manuscript.


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© Springer Nature B.V. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dipartimento di Scienze Biomediche e Chirurgico SpecialisticheUniversità di FerraraFerraraItaly
  2. 2.Department of Philosophy and CommunicationUniversity of BolognaBolognaItaly

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