The philosophical implications of fundamental cause theory

Authored by: Daniel Goldberg

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Public Health

Print publication date:  October  2022
Online publication date:  October  2022

Print ISBN: 9781138938823
eBook ISBN: 9781315675411
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter introduces readers to the influential social epidemiological framework known as “fundamental cause theory” (FCT). After describing the basics of the theory, the chapter moves on to assess the notion of causation at work in FCT and to locate that notion conceptually in the larger body of work on causation in the philosophy of epidemiology in particular. The analysis then addresses some important ethical implications of FCT and concludes by considering several important objections to the validity and utility of the theory. The chapter is therefore intended more as a broad survey of FCT in general, its theoretical and conceptual foundations, and the possible implications for practice and policy in epidemiology and public health.

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