Uncertainty, the cornerstone of medical activity

This module offers a philosophical reflection on the importance of uncertainty in medical practice and thought, starting with a historical perspective. It gives an overview of the problem presented by certainty and the scientificalness of modern medicine in order to consider the renewal of medical activity and training around the concepts of uncertainty, doubt and risk.

Medicine and Humanities modules focus on philosophy, ethics, history, arts and literature as they relate to the practice of medicine. Prepared by specialists in medical and human sciences, these modules aim to provide a basis of support for knowledge and reflection so that students and health care professionals are able to develop their vision of disease and care from a bio-psycho-social perspective within a wider field of knowledge.

Author’s biography


Doctor of philosophy and of the history of science at Université de Lorraine, France, Alexandre Klein specialized in the study of the practices and discourse on health in the modern era. Among other things, he has worked on the introduction of subjectivity in medical rationality and is presently involved in the inception of the philosophical history of the health experience in modern times.


Learning objectives

  • To learn the basics and history of medical epistemology
  • To develop the capacity to critically reflect on medicine and its scientificalness
  • To learn the theoretical benchmarks to promote ethical clinical practice



Throughout the module, we invite you to PAUSE AND REFLECT in order to reinforce what you have learned. Take the time to write down your answers and ideas. An answer is given by the expert to help you deepen and ground your reflection. It is not meant to challenge the value of your personal answer but is there to offer new directions.
We also invite you to take personal notes using the “Note Taking” tool on the right.


Subject matter expert: Alexandre Klein, PHD
Concept Development and Project Management: Isabelle Burnier, MD, M.Ed
Editorial Committee: Jean Roy, MD, Diane Bouchard-Lamothe, M. Sc.S.
Programming and Graphic Design: Medtech, University of Ottawa
Production: Mars 2017