David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Ezio Di Nucci
Jack Alan Reynolds
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Philosophical Studies 147 (1):59 - 70 (2010)
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are widely taken as the gold standard for establishing causal conclusions. Ideally conducted they ensure that the treatment ‘causes’ the outcome—in the experiment. But where else? This is the venerable question of external validity. I point out that the question comes in two importantly different forms: Is the specific causal conclusion warranted by the experiment true in a target situation? What will be the result of implementing the treatment there? This paper explains how the probabilistic theory of causality implies that RCTs can establish causal conclusions and thereby provides an account of what exactly that causal conclusion is. Clarifying the exact form of the conclusion shows just what is necessary for it to hold in a new setting and also how much more is needed to see what the actual outcome would be there were the treatment implemented.
|Keywords||Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) External validity Probabilistic theory of causality Causal inference Capacities Contributions|
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References found in this work BETA
Nancy Cartwright (1999). The Dappled World: A Study of the Boundaries of Science. Cambridge University Press.
Nancy Cartwright (1983). How the Laws of Physics Lie. Oxford University Press.
Judea Pearl (2000). Causality: Models, Reasoning, and Inference. Cambridge University Press.
Nancy Cartwright (1989). Nature's Capacities and Their Measurement. Oxford University Press.
Nancy Cartwright (2007). Hunting Causes and Using Them: Approaches in Philosophy and Economics. Cambridge University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Brendan Clarke, Donald Gillies, Phyllis Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson (2014). Mechanisms and the Evidence Hierarchy. Topoi 33 (2):339-360.
Jonathan Fuller & Luis J. Flores (2015). The Risk GP Model: The Standard Model of Prediction in Medicine. Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 54:49-61.
Jacob Stegenga (2014). Down with the Hierarchies. Topoi 33 (2):313-322.
Michael Baumgartner & Isabelle Drouet (2013). Identifying Intervention Variables. European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (2):183-205.
Bennett Holman (2015). Why Most Sugar Pills Are Not Placebos. Philosophy of Science 82 (5):1330-1343.
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