Philosophical Studies

, Volume 143, Issue 1, pp 137–145 | Cite as

Randomized controlled trials and the flow of information: comment on Cartwright

  • Sherrilyn Roush


The transferability problem—whether the results of an experiment will transfer to a treatment population—affects not only Randomized Controlled Trials but any type of study. The problem for any given type of study can also, potentially, be addressed to some degree through many different types of study. The transferability problem for a given RCT can be investigated further through another RCT, but the variables to use in the further experiment must be discovered. This suggests we could do better on the epistemological problem of transferability by promoting, in the repeated process of formulating public health guidelines, feedback loops of information from the implementation setting back to researchers who are defining new studies.


Randomized controlled trial RCT Evidence-based policy Transferability problem Cause Confounder Discovery of new variables 


  1. Eberhardt, F., & Sheines, R. (2007). Interventions and causal inference. Philosophy of Science, 74, 981–995.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyGroup in Logic and the Methodology of Science, U.CBerkeleyUSA

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