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Prof. A B Broadbent

Prof Alex Broadbent
Prof. A B Broadbent
Faculty of Humanities
Department of Philosophy Permanent Staff
Executive Dean

Contact Details
B Ring 516
011 559 2727

Professor Alex Broadbent is Executive Dean of the Faculty of Humanities at UJ, founding Director of the African Centre for Epistemology and Philosophy of Science, and Professor of Philosophy. Before joining UJ in 2011, he held various research, teaching and visiting positions at Cambridge, Vienna, Athens and Harvard. Alex is a philosopher of science, medicine and epidemiology, with particular interests in causal inference, explanation, and prediction. Alex is committed to finding philosophical problems in practical contexts, and to contributing something useful concerning them. In particular, he has been instrumental in establishing the philosophy of epidemiology as a distinct sub-discipline at the intersection of philosophy of medicine and science (his 2013 book Philosophy of Epidemiology was the first book-length treatment of the topic). He also works on the philosophy of law, and especially the use of scientific evidence in law.

Alex holds a B1  from the National Research Foundation of South Africa (2019-2025) and is an alumnus of the South African Young Academy of Sciences. He has published over 25 articles in top international journals across three disciplines (philosophy, epidemiology, law). He has three monographs, the latest being Philosophy of Medicine, published in 2019 by Oxford University Press.



h-index (Google)12
h-index (Scopus)8
Articles (pub + in press)28
Op Eds7



  1. Broadbent A. 2019. Philosophy of Medicine. New York and Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  2. Broadbent A. 2016. Philosophy for Graduate Students: Metaphysics and Epistemology. London and New York: Routledge.
  3. Broadbent, A. 2013. Philosophy of Epidemiology. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Edited Volumes

Broadbent A and Smart B (eds.). Under contract. Major Works in Philosophy of Medicine. London and New York: Routledge.

Journal Articles (Peer Reviewed)

In Press

Broadbent, A. In press. 'The C-word, the P-word and Scientific Realism.' Synthese.

Broadbent A. In press. 'Health as a Secondary Property.' The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. Advance access:


  1. Broadbent, A. 2019. The inquiry model of medicine. Canadian Medical Association Journal 191: E105-E106.
  2. Broadbent A. 2018. Intellectualizing Medicine: a Reply to Commentaries on "Prediction, Understanding, and Medicine". Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 43:325-41.
  3. Broadbent A. 2018. Prediction, Understanding, and Medicine. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 43:289-305.
  4. Broadbent A, Vandenbroucke J, and Pearce N. 2016. Formalism or Pluralism? A Reply to Commentaries on "Causality and Causal Inference in Epidemiology". International Journal of Epidemiology 45: 1841-51.
  5. Broadbent A, Vandenbroucke J, and Pearce N. 2016. Authors' Reply to: VanderWeele et al., Chiolero, and Schooling et al. International Journal of Epidemiology 45:2203-05.
  6. Vandenbroucke J, Broadbent A, and Pearce N. 2016. Causality and Causal Inference in Epidemiology – the Need for a Pluralistic Approach. International Journal of Epidemiology 45: 1776-86.
  7. Broadbent A and Seung-Sik H. 2016. Tobacco and Epidemiology in Korea: old tricks, new answers? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 70:527-28.
  8. Vlerick M and Broadbent A. 2015. Evolution and Epistemic Justification. Dialectica 69:185-203.
  9. Broadbent A. 2015. Causation and Prediction in Epidemiology: A Guide to the Methodological Revolution. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 54:72-80.
  10. Fuller J, Broadbent A and Flores LJ. 2015. Introduction to prediction in epidemiology and medicine. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences B54:45-48.
  11. Broadbent A. 2015. Stability as a Stable Category in Medical Epistemology. Angewandte Philosophie: Eine internationale Zeitschrift/Applied Philosophy: An International Journal 1:24-37.
  12. Broadbent A. 2015. Epidemiological evidence in law: a comment on Supreme Court Decision2011Da22092. Epidemiology and Health 37:e2015026.
  13. Simon JR, Broadbent A. and Gifford F. 2015. Beyond Bioethics: the 5th International Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 36:1-5.
  14. Broadbent A. 2015. Risk Relativism and physical law. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health 69:92-94.
  15. Broadbent A. 2014. Disease as a Theoretical Concept: the Case of HPV-itis. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 48:250-257.
  16. Broadbent A. 2012. Causes of causes. Philosophical Studies 158:457-76.
  17. Broadbent A. 2012. Philosophy and Preventive Medicine. Preventive Medicine 55:575-76.
  18. Broadbent A. 2011. Epidemiological Evidence in Proof of Specific Causation. Legal Theory 17:237-78.
  19. Broadbent A. 2011. Defining Neglected Disease. Biosocieties 6:51-70.
  20. Broadbent A. 2011. Conceptual and methodological issues in epidemiology – An overview. Preventive Medicine 53:215-16.
  21. Broadbent A. 2011. What could possibly go wrong? – A heuristic for predicting population health outcomes of interventions. Preventive Medicine 53:256-59.
  22. Broadbent A. 2009. Causation and models of disease in epidemiology. Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40:302-11.
  23. Broadbent A. 2009. Fact and Law in the Causal Inquiry. Legal Theory 15:173-91.
  24. Broadbent A. 2008. The Difference Between Cause and Condition. Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 108:355-64.
  25. Broadbent A. 2008. For Analytic Bioethics. Clinical Ethics 3:185-88.
  26. Broadbent A. 2007. Reversing the Counterfactual Analysis of Causation. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15:169­-89.

Chapters (peer reviewed)


  1. Broadbent A. 2017. Can Causation Be Quantitatively Measured? In Leah McClimans (ed.), Measurement in Medicine: Philosophical Essays on Assessment and Evaluation. Rowman and Littlefield. Pp. 21-34.
  2. Broadbent A. 2017. Philosophy of Epidemiology. In Routledge Companion to the Philosophy of Medicine. Routledge. Pp. 248-256.
  3. Broadbent A. 2016. Epidemiology. In Marcum J. (ed.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Contemporary Philosophy of Medicine. Bloomsbury. Pp. 93-112.
  4. Broadbent A. 2016. 'Causation', in Freeman M. and Zeegers M. (eds.), Forensic Epidemiology: Principles and Practices. London: Elsevier. Pp. 112-130.
  5. Broadbent A. 2013. 'Explanation and Responsibility.' In Kahmen, B. and Stepanians, M. (eds.), Causation and Responsibility – Critical Essays. De Gruyter.
  6. Broadbent A. 2011. 'Inferring causation in epidemiology: mechanisms, black boxes, and contrasts.' Causality in the Sciences, Phyllis McKay Illari, Federica Russo, and Jon Williamson (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press (2011).

Op Eds

Broadbent, A. 2019-02-28. The power of prediction: why the fourth industrial revolution won't happen.

Broadbent, A. 2019-01-30. What is medicine? Why it's so important to answer the question.

Broadbent, A.2018-11-12.  A mindset shift in sciences and humanities is the only antidote to hoaxes.

Broadbent, A. 2018-09-23. The fourth industrial revolution: sorting out the real from the unreal.

Broadbent, A. 2018-09-02. How the humanities can deliver for the fourth industrial revolution.

Broadbent A. 2017-06-01. It will take critical, thorough scrutiny to truly decolonise knowledge. The Conversation Africa.

Broadbent A. 2017-05-17. African Universities must take a critical view of knowledge and how it's made. The Conversation Africa.


Technical Reports

Broadbent, A. 2011. Epidemiology, Risk, and Causation: conceptual and methodological issues in public health science. Commissioned and published by the PHG Foundation on the topic of a series of workshops they funded in 2010.


Online Resources

2019 Podcast on "What is medicine?" :

2014 Podcast on neglected diseases, by invitation:

2012 Philosophy of Epidemiology blog


Links Profile - includes preprints and draft papers

Philosophy of Epidemiology blog

International Philosophy of Medicine Roundtable

Preventive Medicine (journal)

Page at HPS, Cambridge