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Reflecting on Nancy Cartwright's conception of the external validity of RCTs: (w. Nancy Cartwright)

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With inspiration from a recent discussion in the Journal of Social Science and Medicine, this symposium paper aims to reflect and discuss Nancy Cartwright’s criticism of randomised con-trolled trials (RCTs), and especially, the use of the knowledge extrapolated from RCTs. The ini-tial part of the paper presents Cartwright’s view on the external validity of RCTs, and proceeds with a discussion of what impact Cartwright’s notion of external validity/causality has on the conduct and use of RCTs and research in general. One of the main topics of discussion will be Cartwright’s causal principles (CP). The paper aims to reach a deeper understanding of how to obtain knowledge about the structural causal principles governing different populations and how to make the best use of this knowledge. In this relation, the paper examines whether any methods can deliver this kind of knowledge. Cartwright describes CP as a model of the INUS condition, but one of the challenges about the INUS condition is that it can be rather difficult to distinguish between relevant causal factors and unnecessary contextual factors. Therefore, the paper explores how to separate redundant circumstantial factors from causally efficacious ones in the hunt for structural knowledge.
Original languageEnglish
Publication yearNov 2018
Number of pages3
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018
EventIX SLMFCE: IX Conference of the Spanish Society for Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science - UNED , Madrid, Spain
Duration: 13 Nov 201816 Nov 2018


ConferenceIX SLMFCE
Internet address

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