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Evidence, external validity and explanatory relevance.

Cartwright, N. (2011) 'Evidence, external validity and explanatory relevance.', in Philosophy of science matters : the philosophy of Peter Achinstein. New York: Oxford University Press, pp. 15-28.


When does one fact speak for another? That is the problem of evidential relevance. Peter Achinstein’s answer, in brief: Evidential relevance = explanatory relevance.2 My own recent work investigates evidence for effectiveness predictions, which are at the core of the currently heavily mandated evidencebased policy and practice (EBPP): predictions of the form ‘Policy treatment T implemented as, when and how it would be implemented by us will result in targeted outcome O.’ RCTs, or randomized controlled trials, for T and O are taken to be the gold standard for evidence for effectiveness predictions. I question this: Not just whether they are gold-standard evidence, but more, How can they be evidence at all? What makes them relevant to the truth of the prediction that T will work for us?

Item Type:Book chapter
Full text:(AM) Accepted Manuscript
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Publisher statement:This is a draft of a chapter that was accepted for publication by Oxford University Press in the book 'Philosophy of Science Matters' edited by Gregory J. Morgan and published in 2011.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:13 April 2016
Date of first online publication:June 2011
Date first made open access:No date available

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