Single Case Causes: What Is Evidence and Why
How do we establish singular causal claims? It seems we do this all the time, from courtrooms to cloud chambers. Nevertheless, there is a strong lobby in the evidence-based medicine and policy movements that argues that we cannot make reliable causal judgments about single cases in these areas. So we cannot tell whether a policy or treatment ‘worked’ for any specific individual. This paper argues the contrary. It provides a catalogue of evidence types that can support singular causal claims, and it develops a theoretical framework that shows that these types are evidence for causation in the single case.
KeywordsStructural Equation Causal Claim INUS Condition Causal Principle Policy Movement
I would like to thank Alex Marcellesi for research assistance and thank the participants in my winter 2013 graduate seminar on ‘Evidence and Singular Causes’ at UC San Diego as well as an anonymous referee for help with the ideas and details of this paper.
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