Recent Activities

13-16 November 2018
Raimundus Lullius Lectures on Logic, Methodology and Philosophy of Science, Madrid
Lecture 1: 13th November: Markers, mechanisms and measures
Lecture 2: 14th November: Causal-chain models and theories of change
Lecture 3: 16th November: Mechanisms and mid-level laws

1-4 November 2018
PSA 2018, Seattle
Medical Scepticism symposium. ‘No-no to singular causation: Healthy scepticism?’

26 October 2018
Workshop: Structural and Organisational Change, LSE, London

24-25 September 2018
Transforming the field: Use of Research Evidence in Policy and Practice, Nuffield Foundation, London
Panel and workshop, theme 3: Measuring, theorising and unpacking ‘use’ (Prof Kat Smith, Prof Nancy Cartwright, Prof Justin Parkhurst)

5-6 September 2018
The Lauener symposium , Haus der Universität, Bern, Switzerland
Talk title: ‘The Argument Theory of Evidence: A Foundation for Voluntarism’

21-23 August 2018
Conference of the mixed methods international research association, Vienna
Keynote speech on 22 August: Title: ‘First mix the claims; then mix the methods.’

3-4 July 2018
ESRC National Centre for Research Methods Festival, University of Bath
Keynote talk title: ‘Causal inference: Evidence for the single case?’


27 June 2018
K4U Deliberation Workshop
Researchers from the Knowledge for Use (K4U) project held this one-day workshop at Newcastle University

7 June 2018
Department for Social Policy and Intervention Seminar Series, University of Oxford
Talk title: ‘Evidence for Policy Prediction: Intervention-centred or Context-centred’

29 May 2018
Inaugural Departmental Lecture Series, The Great Chamber, University of Lincoln
Talk title: ‘Evidence-based Policy: Where Philosophy Meets Practice’


26 May 2018
HowTheLightGetsIn 2018, Hay-on-Wye, UK
Debate title: ‘The Edge of Reality’

17-19 May 2018
SWIP Ireland’s annual conference, Dublin
Talk title: ‘What’s with scientific method? What’s with rigour?’

CHESS/IAS/K4U Workshop Series: 2017-2018
Thinking Ecologically About Policy and Structure

The Institute of Advanced Study (IAS) at Durham University had a theme of ‘structure’ for 2017-8. Nancy Cartwright and Hakan Seckinelgin of the LSE organised two workshops which were jointly funded by K4U the IAS. The first of these workshops took place on 31 October 2017 and looked at the philosophical foundations of ecological structure as an explanatory mechanism. The second workshop, Two approaches to mapping social structure? (Systems theory; Ecology) took place on 15 May 2018.

15 May 2018
Thinking Ecologically about Policy and Structure, Workshop Two, Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University, UK
Two approaches to mapping social structure? (Systems theory; Ecology)

11 May 2018
2018 Human Welfare Conference, Green Templeton College, Oxford University
Round table moderator: ‘Exploring Validity: Questioning the idea of evidence’

18 April 2018
Goldsmith’s Economics Seminar Series, University of London
Talk title: ‘The Limitations of RCTs in Economics’

23 March 2018
Salmon Memorial Lecture, University of Pittsburgh
Nancy Cartwright, ‘Causal Processes & Causal Interactions: Warranting Causation in the Single Case’.

5 March 2018
UCSD Science Studies Talk (on RCTs)
Title: ‘What’s wrong with pragmatic trials?’

9 February 2018
UC Davis Colloquium
Title: ‘Is the cat really lapping up the milk?’
A discussion between Nancy Cartwright and Bas van Fraassen

2 February 2018
PHI BETA KAPPA Society, Lebowitz Lecture
University of Wisconsin–Madison, Philosophy Department Colloquium
Elliott Sober, ‘The Scientific Method – Methods that aren’t Subject-Specific’
Nancy Cartwright, ‘The Scientific Method – The Devil is always in the Details’

2 February 2018
Philosophy Department Colloquium, University of Wisconsin–Madison
Title: ‘What do educators need to know?’

24 January 2018
UC Riverside’s Colloquium, University of California at Riverside
Title: ‘What is wrong with the idea of the scientific method?’

31 October 2017
Thinking Ecologically about Policy and Structure, Workshop One, Institute of Advanced Study, Durham University, UK
Learning how to affect change in stable structures

24 October 2017
SMSC Lecture, St. Mary’s College, Durham University, UK
Prof. Cartwright delivered a talk to College alumni entitled “Evidence and Policy: Why ‘What Works’ Doesn’t Work’

3-4 October 2017
The Guidelines Challenge: Philosophy, Practice, Policy – A CauseHealth Event, Oxford, UK
Prof. Cartwright delivered a keynote lecture entitled ‘What evidence should Guidelines take note of?’
Abstract: I suppose that guidelines are supposed to help choose a safe, effective, reasonable-cost, tolerable and culturally and morally acceptable treatment for an individual patient. In which case, there are no general answers to the title question – and that includes RCTs and pragmatic trials. RCTs, like any study, can only warrant results about the population studied and then essentially only estimates of average treatment effects in that population. For RCT results to be useful for predictions about individuals, even if they are individuals in the trial itself, much more evidence, very different in kind, must be consulted. Without such information, RCT results have very little, if any, evidential value for the individual. This paper will outline other kinds of information that can promote the evidential value of the RCT and also ideas about how to build good individual predictions without an RCT.