Why There's No Cause to Randomize

John Worrall
London School of Economics
The evidence from randomized controlled trials (RCTs) is widely regarded as supplying the ‘gold standard’ in medicine—we may sometimes have to settle for other forms of evidence, but this is always epistemically second-best. But how well justified is the epistemic claim about the superiority of RCTs? This paper adds to my earlier (predominantly negative) analyses of the claims produced in favour of the idea that randomization plays a uniquely privileged epistemic role, by closely inspecting three related arguments from leading contributors to the burgeoning field of probabilistic causality—Papineau, Cartwright and Pearl. It concludes that none of these further arguments supplies any practical reason for thinking of randomization as having unique epistemic power. IntroductionWhy the issue is of great practical importance—the ECMO casePapineau on the ‘virtues of randomization’Cartwright on causality and the ‘ideal’ randomized experimentPearl on randomization, nets and causesConclusion
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DOI 10.1093/bjps/axm024
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References found in this work BETA

What Evidence in Evidence-Based Medicine?John Worrall - 2002 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S316-S330.
What Evidence in Evidence‐Based Medicine?John Worrall - 2002 - Philosophy of Science 69 (S3):S316-S330.
The Virtues of Randomization.David Papineau - 1994 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 45 (2):437-450.

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Citations of this work BETA

Is Meta-Analysis the Platinum Standard of Evidence?Jacob Stegenga - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C 42 (4):497-507.
Is Meta-Analysis the Platinum Standard of Evidence?Jacob Stegenga - 2011 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 42 (4):497-507.
Evidence in Medicine and Evidence-Based Medicine.John Worrall - 2007 - Philosophy Compass 2 (6):981–1022.

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