© 2020

Uncertainty in Pharmacology

Epistemology, Methods, and Decisions

  • Adam LaCaze
  • Barbara Osimani

Part of the Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science book series (BSPS, volume 338)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Epistemology

  3. Methods

  4. Decisions

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 373-373
    2. Sven Ove Hansson
      Pages 375-396

About this book


This volume covers a wide range of topics concerning methodological, epistemological, and regulatory-ethical issues around pharmacology. The book focuses in particular on the diverse sources of uncertainty, the different kinds of uncertainty that there are, and the diverse ways in which these uncertainties are (or could be) addressed. Compared with the more basic sciences, such as chemistry or biology, pharmacology works across diverse observable levels of reality: although the first step in the causal chain leading to the therapeutic outcome takes place at the biochemical level, the end-effect is a clinically observable result—which is influenced not only by biological actions, but also psychological and social phenomena. Issues of causality and evidence must be treated with these specific aspects in mind. In covering these issues, the book opens up a common domain of investigation which intersects the deeply intertwined dimensions of pharmacological research, pharmaceutical regulation and the related economic environment. The book is a collective endeavour with in-depth contributions from experts in pharmacology, philosophy of medicine, statistics, scientific methodology, formal and social epistemology, working in constant dialogue across disciplinary boundaries.


Drug Development Drug Policy Drug Safety Clinical Trials Risk Prevention Pharmaceutical Market Pharmaceutical Regulation Health Policies Statistics in Pharmacology Systems Pharmacology Bayesian Statistics in Pharmacology

Editors and affiliations

  • Adam LaCaze
    • 1
  • Barbara Osimani
    • 2
  1. 1.School of PharmacyThe University of QueenslandSt LuciaAustralia
  2. 2.Department of Biomedical Sciences and Public Health, Polytechnic University of the Marche, Ancona, ItalyMunich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, Munchen, LMUMunichGermany

About the editors

Prof. Barbara Osimani is Associate Professor of Logic and Philosophy of Science at the Polytechnic University of the Marche and is currently heading an ERC project, which also runs at the Munich Center for Mathematical Philosophy, LMU: "Philosophy of Pharmacology: Safety, Statistical Standards, and Evidence Amalgamation". 

She is interested in scientific inference in research contexts characterised by strategic behaviour and she is developing a "Formal Epistemology of Medicine" in order to analyse issues arising in medical research, with a special focus on the complex interaction of methodological, social and regulatory as well as ethical dimensions in medicine. She worked on the precautionary principle, evidence hierarchies, causal assessment of pharmaceutical harm, and statistical inference. Her recent papers analyse issues around philosophy of evidence (reliability, bias, reproducibility, coherence) from a Bayesian perspective. Within her ERC project: "Philosophy of Pharmacology: Safety, Statistical Standards, and Evidence Amalgamation" she developed a Bayesian framework for the integration of heterogenous items of evidence for the purpose of causal assessment of drug-induced harm ("E-Synthesis")

Dr. La Caze is a lecturer at the School of Pharmacy, University of Queensland. He completed his PhD in the philosophy of science at The University of Sydney. His research focusses on philosophy of science, philosophy of medicine and ethics. He is particularly interested in exploring philosophical approaches to challenges that arise in interpreting and applying biomedical research.

Bibliographic information

  • Book Title Uncertainty in Pharmacology
  • Book Subtitle Epistemology, Methods, and Decisions
  • Editors Adam LaCaze
    Barbara Osimani
  • Series Title Boston Studies in the Philosophy and History of Science
  • Series Abbreviated Title Boston Stud. Philosophy
  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Religion and Philosophy Philosophy and Religion (R0)
  • Hardcover ISBN 978-3-030-29178-5
  • Softcover ISBN 978-3-030-29181-5
  • eBook ISBN 978-3-030-29179-2
  • Series ISSN 0068-0346
  • Series E-ISSN 2214-7942
  • Edition Number 1
  • Number of Pages XIII, 470
  • Number of Illustrations 48 b/w illustrations, 0 illustrations in colour
  • Topics Philosophy of Medicine
    Theory of Medicine/Bioethics
  • Buy this book on publisher's site


“Experts and students in pharmaceutical sciences, philosophy of science or medicine, epistemology, and clinical pharmacology will find this volume particularly interesting, for it elucidates many questions emerging from the intersection of pharmacology and applied philosophy. … this is a high-quality volume that raises intellectually stimulating arguments pertinent to pharmaceutical sciences as well as clinical practice.” (Maximillian H Stevenson, Doody's Book Reviews, November 6, 2020)