Professor Alex Broadbent

Position: Professor

Institution: University of Johannesburg, Dpt. of Philosophy

Awards: Elsevier Young Scientist Award P-Rated


Alex's research interests lie in metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of science broadly construed. Much of Alex's work concerns philosophical problems posed by causation. Alex thinks that, at least sometimes, the way we answer questions in metaphysics can have practical consequences; and conversely, that practical problems can give rise to philosophical problems which might otherwise go unnoticed. Seeking to dentify points of contact between conceptual and practical spheres is a guiding principle of Alex's research. As well as his work in metaphysics, Alex has philosophical interests in the science of epidemiology (which is concerned with public health), and in the philosophy of law. He is currently working on a project to establish Philosophy of Epidemiology as a subdiscipline within the philosophy of science. . You can access Alex's blog on the philosophy of epidemiology at

Before joining UJ in March 2011, Alex spent much of his previous academic life at Cambridge, where he studied and later lectured, and where he remains a Research Associate. He also studied at University College London and at Harvard, and has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Vienna.



2013. Philosophy of Epidemiology. Palgrave Macmillan.

Papers in journals

2012. 'Philosophy and Preventive Medicine.' Preventive Medicine.

2012. 'Causes of causes.' Philosophical Studies 158: 457-476.

2011. 'Epidemiological Evidence in Proof of Specific Causation.' Legal Theory 17: 237-278.

  1. 'Whatcould possibly go wrong? – A heuristic for predicting population health outcomes of interventions.' Preventive Medicine 53: 256-259.

2011. 'Conceptual and methodological issues in epidemiology – An overview.' Preventive Medicine 53: 215-216.

2011. 'Defining Neglected Disease.' Biosocieties 6: 51-70.

2009. 'Causation and models of disease in epidemiology.' Studies in the History and Philosophy of the Biological and Biomedical Sciences 40: 302–311.

  1. 'Factand law in the causal inquiry.' Legal Theory 15: 73–191.
  1. 'ForAnalytic Bioethics.' Clinical Ethics 3: 185-188.

2008 'A Note on Epidemiological Caution.' Letter to British Medical Journal, online:

  1. 'TheDifference Between Cause and Condition.' Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 108: 355-364.

2007. 'Reversing the Counterfactual Analysis of Causation.' International Journal of Philosophical Studies 15: 169­189.

Book Chapters

In press. 'Explanation and Responsibility.'  In Kahmen, B. and Stepanians, M. (eds.), Causation and Responsibility – Critical Essays. De Gruyter.

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).


2011. 'Review of Michael S Moore, Causation and Responsibility: An Essay in Law, Morals and Metaphysics.' Ethics 121: 669-674.


2011. Epidemiology, Risk, and Causation: conceptual and methodological issues in public health science.

Contact Details

Tel: +27 (0) 11 559 2727

Fax:  +27 (0)11 559 3326


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