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Abstract
It has recently been argued that successful evidence-based policy should rely on two kinds of evidence: statistical and mechanistic. The former is held to be evidence that a policy brings about the desired outcome, and the latter concerns how it does so. Although agreeing with the spirit of this proposal, we argue that the underlying conception of mechanistic evidence as evidence that is different in kind from correlational, difference-making or statistical evidence, does not correctly capture the role that information about mechanisms should play in evidence-based policy. We offer an alternative account of mechanistic evidence as information concerning the causal pathway connecting the policy intervention to its outcome. Not only can this be analyzed as evidence of difference-making, it is also to be found at any level and is obtainable by a broad range of methods, both experimental and observational. Using behavioral policy as an illustration, we draw the implications of this revised understanding of mechanistic evidence for debates concerning policy extrapolation, evidence hierarchies, and evidence integration.
Keywords evidence-based policy  behavioral policy  mechanistic evidence  extrapolation  evidence integration
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsa.2018.08.003
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References found in this work BETA

Interventionism and Causal Exclusion.James Woodward - 2015 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 91 (2):303-347.
Interpreting Causality in the Health Sciences.Federica Russo & Jon Williamson - 2007 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 21 (2):157 – 170.
What is a Mechanism? A Counterfactual Account.Jim Woodward - 2002 - Proceedings of the Philosophy of Science Association 2002 (3):S366-S377.

View all 35 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Applying Evidential Pluralism to the Social Sciences.Yafeng Shan & Jon Williamson - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (4):1-27.
Econophysics: Making Sense of a Chimera.Adrian K. Yee - 2021 - European Journal for Philosophy of Science 11 (4):1-34.
Evidence of Effectiveness.Jacob Stegenga - 2022 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 91:288-295.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

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