Philosophical Studies 147 (1):59 - 70 (2009)
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
Causal Necessity: A Pragmatic Investigation of the Necessity of Laws.Brian Skyrms - 1980 - Yale University Press.
Citations of this work BETA
Mechanisms and the Evidence Hierarchy.Brendan Clarke, Donald Gillies, Phyllis Illari, Federica Russo & Jon Williamson - 2014 - Topoi 33 (2):339-360.
The Risk GP Model: The Standard Model of Prediction in Medicine.Jonathan Fuller & Luis J. Flores - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 54:49-61.
What’s in a Gold Standard? In Defence of Randomised Controlled Trials.Marius Backmann - forthcoming - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy.
Identifying Intervention Variables.Michael Baumgartner & Isabelle Drouet - 2013 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 3 (2):183-205.
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