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Medicines 2018, 5(2), 40; https://doi.org/10.3390/medicines5020040

Rationalism, Empiricism, and Evidence-Based Medicine: A Call for a New Galenic Synthesis

Medical Scientist Training Program, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL 35294, USA
Received: 3 April 2018 / Revised: 23 April 2018 / Accepted: 23 April 2018 / Published: 25 April 2018
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Abstract

Thirty years after the rise of the evidence-based medicine (EBM) movement, formal training in philosophy remains poorly represented among medical students and their educators. In this paper, I argue that EBM’s reception in this context has resulted in a privileging of empiricism over rationalism in clinical reasoning with unintended consequences for medical practice. After a limited review of the history of medical epistemology, I argue that a solution to this problem can be found in the method of the 2nd-century Roman physician Galen, who brought empiricism and rationalism together in a synthesis anticipating the scientific method. Next, I review several of the problems that have been identified as resulting from a staunch commitment to empiricism in medical practice. Finally, I conclude that greater epistemological awareness in the medical community would precipitate a Galenic shift toward a more epistemically balanced, scientific approach to clinical research. View Full-Text
Keywords: epistemology; evidence-based medicine; medical education; rationalism; empiricism; Galen epistemology; evidence-based medicine; medical education; rationalism; empiricism; Galen
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Webb, W.M. Rationalism, Empiricism, and Evidence-Based Medicine: A Call for a New Galenic Synthesis. Medicines 2018, 5, 40.

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