Evidential pluralism in the social sciences

In order to establish a causal claim, one needs to establish both that the putative cause and effect are correlated and that there is a mechanism linking the former to the latter that can explain this correlation. This evidential pluralism thesis has led to some very fruitful work in the philosophy of the biomedical sciences and to suggestions for improvements to evidence-based medicine. This project will investigate whether the thesis also applies to the social sciences. Can it be used to provide foundations for ‘mixed methods research’ in the social sciences? Can it lead to improvements in evidence-based social policy?

This project is supported by the Leverhulme Trust and runs for 3 years from 1st September 2019.

Postdoc opportunity:

We’re looking for a postdoctoral philosopher of science to work on a research project “Evidential pluralism in the social sciences”:


The application deadline is 13 June.

The project (and the postdoc position) starts on 1st September, runs for 3 years, and is funded by the Leverhulme Trust.

The aim of the project is to investigate the extent to which some recent developments in the philosophy of evidence-based medicine (see, e.g., Evaluating evidence of mechanisms in medicine) can be applied to evidence-based policy in the social sciences, and whether they can provide new philosophical foundations for mixed-methods research in the social sciences. Further information about the project is available here: Project-info.

The Philosophy department at the University of Kent has two main research clusters: theoretical reasoning (which covers scientific method and this project), and practical reasoning. This project is also associated with the Centre for Reasoning, which offers an interdisciplinary forum for exchange of ideas on reasoning, inference and methodology.

Canterbury is an attractive city in East Kent, next to the Kent downs, which offer excellent walking and cycling. Canterbury is 20 minutes from the seaside at Whitstable and there is a range of nice beaches within about 40 minutes. Although the cost of living is quite high in much of South East England, East Kent is one of the less expensive areas and it’s perfectly possible to live well on a postdoc’s salary within walking distance of the University of Kent and Canterbury town centre. France is easily accessible by ferry from Dover, which is half an hour away, or by train from Ashford or Folkestone, which are also nearby. There are quick train links to Paris and Brussels, and London is about 50 mins away by train.