What is the Relevance of Procedural Fairness to Making Determinations about Medical Evidence?

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Sturm College of Law


Procedural fairness, Social epistemology, Testimonial injustice, Hermeneutical injustice, Decision making


Approaches relying on fair procedures rather than substantive principles have been proposed for answering dilemmas in medical ethics and health policy. These dilemmas generally involve two questions: the epistemological (factual) question of which benefits an intervention will have, and the ethical (value) question of how to distribute those benefits. This article focuses on the potential of fair procedures to help address epistemological and factual questions in medicine, using the debate over antidepressant efficacy as a test case. In doing so, it employs concepts from social epistemology such as testimonial injustice (bias resulting from the exclusion of evidence) and hermeneutical injustice (bias resulting from a prevailing discussion framework's conceptual limitations). This article also explores the relevance of scientific consensus to determinations regarding medical evidence.