De Almeida Filho, Naomar. Epidemiología sin números.[Epidemiology without numbers.] Washington D.C.: OPS Serie Paltex Nº 28; 1992,112 p.

Objectives: To review classical epidemiology critically, by focusing on clinical epidemiology and its epistemological bases. To describe the subordination of clinical epidemiology to clinical knowledge. To rescue the importance of the collectivity in the historical and epistemological construction of the discipline.

Methodology: Descriptive and analytical.

Results: The author describes and analyzes the research logic and epidemiological methods of classical epidemiology. He questions various design aspects, instruments used, and the limitations of epidemiological research. He reviews critically the influence of positivist knowledge expressed in so-called “epidemiological reason”. He also analyzes the positivist underpinnings to classical epidemiology, based in the inductive method, empirical observation, and rigid social theory. The author develops alternative models, such as “nomic pluralism,” geared toward greater causal and statistical explanation, to replace the positivist model.

Conclusions: De Almeida concludes that the most important problems in collective health research involve the relationship between social and biological objects. Social objects should be studied using the logic of structural and dialectical analysis; biological objects require other types of causal and mechanical explanations.

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