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Evidence-Based Policy: What's to Be Done about Relevance? For the 2008 Oberlin Philosophy Colloquium

Nancy Cartwright
Philosophical Studies: An International Journal for Philosophy in the Analytic Tradition
Vol. 143, No. 1, Models, Methods, and Evidence: Topics in the Philosophy of Science. Proceedings of the 38th Oberlin Colloquium in Philosophy (Mar., 2009), pp. 127-136
Published by: Springer
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/27734393
Page Count: 10
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Evidence-Based Policy: What's to Be Done about Relevance? For the 2008 Oberlin Philosophy Colloquium
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Abstract

How can philosophy of science be of more practical use? One thing we can do is provide practicable advice about how to determine when one empirical claim is relevant to the truth of another; i.e., about evidential relevance. This matters especially for evidence-based policy, where advice is thin—and misleading—about how to tell what counts as evidence for policy effectiveness. This paper argues that good efficacy results (as in randomized controlled trials), which are all the rage now, are only a very small part of the story. To tell what facts are relevant for judging policy effectiveness, we need to construct causal scenarios about will happen when the policy is implemented.

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