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The theory of Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) is introduced and epistemological questions raised. To what extent does a statistically significant result in an RCT permit a causal inference? Fallacies of statistical inference are discussed as is the relationship between causal inference from RCTs and Inference to the Best Explanation.

Core reading:
Elwood, M. (2007) Critical Appraisal of Epidemiological Studies and Clinical Trials OUP. Chapter 1, chapter 7, part 1.

Bland, M. (2000) An Introduction to Medical Statistics OUP. Chapter 2, chapter 9.

Part of the Topics in the Philosophy of Medicine seminar series:

We will explore topics that are both philosophically interesting, and also relevant to medical research or practice, and the core readings draw on the philosophical as well as the medical literature. We begin with some background linking general epistemological concepts with current topics in philosophy of medicine. We then move on to examine the specific problems of the epistemological role of randomization, causal inference in clinical trials, the role of mechanisms as evidence, the epistemological (and ethical) role of placebo controls, and whether Evidence-Based Medicine as a movement is justified.

No booking required.

For enquires contact Jeremy Howick.

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