What are randomised controlled trials good for?

@article{Cartwright2009WhatAR,
  title={What are randomised controlled trials good for?},
  author={Nancy Cartwright},
  journal={Philosophical Studies},
  year={2009},
  volume={147},
  pages={59-70}
}
Randomized controlled trials (RCTs) are widely taken as the gold standard for establishing causal conclusions. Ideally conducted they ensure that the treatment ‘causes’ the outcome—in the experiment. But where else? This is the venerable question of external validity. I point out that the question comes in two importantly different forms: Is the specific causal conclusion warranted by the experiment true in a target situation? What will be the result of implementing the treatment there? This… Expand
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