Race and medicine in light of the new mechanistic philosophy of science

Biology and Philosophy 35 (4):1-22 (2020)
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Racial disparities in health outcomes have recently become a flashpoint in the debate about the value of race as a biological concept. What role, if any, race has in the etiology of disease is a philosophically and scientifically contested topic. In this article, I expand on the insights of the new mechanistic philosophy of science to defend a mechanism discovery approach to investigating epidemiological racial disparities. The mechanism discovery approach has explanatory virtues lacking in the populational approach typically employed in the study of race and biomedicine. The explanatory constraints that form an integral part of the new mechanistic approach enable mechanism discovery to avoid the epistemic and normative shortcomings of the populational approach. The methodology of mechanism discovery can fruitfully be extended to the treatment and reversal of epidemiological racial disparities.

Author's Profile

Kal Kalewold
University of Maryland, College Park


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