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Durham University

The Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Professor Nancy Cartwright

Cartwright, N. (2016). Single Case Causes: What is Evidence and Why. In Philosophy of Science in Practice: Nancy Cartwright and the Nature of Scientific Reasoning. Chao, H. & Reiss, J. Cham: Springer International Publishing. 11-24.

Author(s) from Durham


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.


Also Durham University: CHESS Working Paper No. 2015-02.