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Durham University

The Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Professor Nancy Cartwright

Cartwright, N. (2012). Presidential Address: Will This Policy Work for You? Predicting Effectiveness Better: How Philosophy Helps. Philosophy of Science 79(5): 973-989.

Author(s) from Durham


There is a takeover movement fast gaining influence in development economics, a movement that demands that predictions about development outcomes be based on randomized controlled trials. The problem it takes up—of using evidence of efficacy from good studies to predict whether a policy will be effective if we implement it—is a general one, and affects us all. My discussion is the result of a long struggle to develop the right concepts to deal with the problem of warranting effectiveness predictions. Whether I have it right or not, these are questions of vast social importance that philosophers of science can, and should, help answer.