We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Otherwise, we'll assume you're OK to continue.

Durham University

The Department of Philosophy


Publication details for Professor Nancy Cartwright

Cartwright, N. & Stegenga, J. (2011). A Theory of Evidence for Evidence-Based Policy. In Evidence, Inference and Enquiry. Dawid, P., Twining, W. & Vasilaki, M. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 291-322.

Author(s) from Durham


Evidence-based policy is all the rage now. But no one knows quite how to do it. Policy questions do not generally fall neatly within any one of our scientific or social science disciplines, where the standards and rules of evidence for the questions studied are fairly clearly delineated. There is by now a variety of guides available on standards of evidence for evidence-based policy. But these focus narrowly on only part of the problem. This chapter lays the foundations for a guide for the use of evidence in predicting policy effectiveness in situ — a more comprehensive guide than current standard offerings such as the Maryland rules in criminology, the weight of evidence scheme of the International Agency for Research on Cancer, or the US ‘What Works Clearinghouse’. The guide itself is meant to be well-grounded but at the same time to give practicable advice, that is, advice that can be used by policy-makers not experts in the natural and social sciences, assuming they are well-intentioned and have a reasonable but limited amount of time and resources available for searching out evidence and deliberating.