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How Should Pragmatists Think About Evidence-Based Medicine?

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Mainstream debates at the center of the philosophy of evidence-based medicine (EBM) are largely devoid of pragmatist contributions. Maya Goldenberg is among a very few to have developed a thoughtful and nuanced critique of EBM under the guidance of key pragmatist values and commitments. Goldenberg’s critique is valuable both for its measured stance and its unique insights. Notwithstanding these virtues, however, her analysis is disappointingly inconsistent. The aim of this paper is to revise Goldenberg’s critique to bring it more consistently in line with the pragmatist values and commitments she espouses. Making this revision reveals that EBM is defensible on pragmatist grounds, and at the same time it usefully extends our understanding of pragmatism’s ongoing vitality by showing it’s value for this orphan area of pragmatist research.


S. Joshua Thomas    
St. John's University
United States


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