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Placing Trust in Medicine by Dealing with Its Uncertainty

Francesca Marin


The paper does not merely address the crucial role of trust in medical practice and the ubiquitous presence of uncertainty in medicine, as tends to happen in scientific literature; rather, it goes further by showing that problematic issues arise when the trust-medicine dyad is recognized without the acknowledgment of the medicine-uncertainty dyad, or vice versa. Firstly, it is argued that the trust-medicine-uncertainty interdependency is necessary because there is a kind of irreducible uncertainty due to the epistemological status of medicine, whose presence guarantees well-placed trust in medicine. In this respect, examples of misplaced trust in medicine due to considering medicine as an absolutely certain scientific knowledge and misplaced distrust in medicine as a result of an antiscientific view of medical knowledge are discussed. Secondly, the need for a triple pattern is proved to be urgent because medical advances, rather than diminishing medical uncertainty, are contributing to its increase and even generating new kinds of uncertainties.


trust; medical practice; medical uncertainty; evidence-based medicine; precision medicine;

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