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EBM advocates require studies to be properly randomized in order to be judged high quality. But on the face of it, randomization is an odd virtue, since it introduces a chance element and so also an element of avoidable ignorance into the scientific process. Some theorists (e.g. Bayesians) reject the requirement for randomization, while others accept it—but for different reasons. We look at the arguments surrounding its justification.

Core reading:
Elwood, M. (2007) Critical Appraisal of Epidemiological Studies and Clinical Trials OUP. Chapter
6, parts 1-2.
Papineau, D. (1994) The virtues of randomization. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science,
45:437–50.
Worrall, J. (2007) Why there’s no cause to randomize. British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, 58:451–88.

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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