The Confounding Question of Confounding Causes in Randomized Trials

British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 70 (3):901-926 (2019)
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Abstract

It is sometimes thought that randomized study group allocation is uniquely proficient at producing comparison groups that are evenly balanced for all confounding causes. Philosophers have argued that in real randomized controlled trials this balance assumption typically fails. But is the balance assumption an important ideal? I run a thought experiment, the CONFOUND study, to answer this question. I then suggest a new account of causal inference in ideal and real comparative group studies that helps clarify the roles of confounding variables and randomization. 1Confounders and Causes2The Balance Assumption3The CONFOUND Study 3.1CONFOUND 13.2CONFOUND 24Disjunction C and the Ideal Study 4.1The ultimate ‘other cause’: C4.2The ideal comparative group study4.3Required conditions for causal inference5Confounders as Causes, Confounders as Correlates6Summary

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Citations of this work

Why Experimental Balance is Still a Reason to Randomize.David Teira & Marco Martinez - forthcoming - The British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
Philosophers on drugs.Bennett Holman - 2019 - Synthese 196 (11):4363-4390.
There is Cause to Randomize.Cristian Larroulet Philippi - 2022 - Philosophy of Science 89 (1):152 - 170.
Machine learning in healthcare and the methodological priority of epistemology over ethics.Thomas Grote - forthcoming - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy.
Meta-Research Evidence for Evaluating Therapies.Jonathan Fuller - 2018 - Philosophy of Science 85 (5):767-780.

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The cement of the universe.John Leslie Mackie - 1974 - Oxford,: Clarendon Press.

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