Evidential Pluralism

Evidential Pluralism is a theory about the epistemology of causation. It holds that:

  • establishing causation normally requires establishing that the putative cause and effect are both appropriately correlated and connected by an appropriate mechanism (‘object pluralism’);
  • so when assessing causation, one should evaluate both association studies and mechanistic studies, where available (‘study pluralism’).

For a quick introduction to Evidential Pluralism and its applications, see

Focus on Evidential Pluralism, The Reasoner 15(6), 2021.

For a recent introductory talk on Evidential Pluralism, see

Video recording. Jon Williamson: A New Framework for Causal Inference in the Health and Social Sciences, National Institutes of Health. 16 November 2023.

Evidential Pluralism is a collaborative research programme. Please get in touch if you’d like to be involved.

Evidential Pluralism applied to the social sciences

For overviews, see

Joe Jones, Alexandra Trofimov, Michael Wilde & Jon Williamson: Integrating Heterogeneous Evidence using Evidential Pluralism, Centre for Reasoning report 23/01, 2023,

Yafeng Shan and Jon Williamson: Applying Evidential Pluralism to the social sciences, European Journal for the Philosophy of Science 11(4):96, 2021. . doi: 10.1007/s13194-021-00415-z

Yafeng Shan and Jon Williamson: Evidential Pluralism in the Social Sciences, Routledge 2023.  ISBN 9780367697228

For more detail see the research projects

Recent papers on this approach include:

  • Saúl Pérez-González, Evidence of mechanisms in evidence-based policy, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 103:95-104, 2024. doi: 10.1016/j.shpsa.2023.11.006
  • Duna Sabri: Rethinking causality and inequality in students’ degree outcomes, British Journal of Sociology of Education 44(3):520-538, 2023. doi: 10.1080/01425692.2023.2179017

Evidential Pluralism applied to medicine (EBM+)

For some motivation, see

Jon Williamson: Establishing causal claims in medicine, International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 32(1): 33-61, 2019. doi: 10.1080/02698595.2019.1630927

For overviews of the EBM+ programme, see

Michael Wilde: The EBM+ Movement, The International Journal of Biostatistics 19(2): 283-293, 2023. doi: 10.1515/ijb-2022-0126

Veli-Pekka Parkkinen, Christian Wallmann, Michael Wilde, Brendan Clarke, Phyllis Illari, Michael P. Kelly, Charles Norell, Federica Russo, Beth Shaw and Jon Williamson: Evaluating evidence of mechanisms in medicine: Principles and procedures, Springer, 2018.

Some recent papers on EBM+ include:

For more detail, see the research projects: