David Teira
Sorbonne Université
In this paper, Isuggest that placebo effects, as we know them today, should be understood as experimental phenomena, low-level regularities whose causal structure is grasped through particular experimental designs with little theoretical guidance. Focusing on placebo interventions with needles for pain reduction -one of the few placebo regularities that seems to arise in meta-analytical studies- I discuss the extent to which it is possible to decompose the different factors at play through more fine-grained randomized clinical trials. My sceptical argument is twofold. On the one hand, I argue that experiments alone are not enough to standardize interventions, and that it is necessary to include theories. On the other hand, I argue that the social interactions that seem to be part of placebo effects are difficult, if not impossible, to blind. Therefore, the measurement biases arising from the participants’ reactivity to the experimental setup cannot be controlled for. Further decomposition of placebo effects requires a theoretical account of the existing experimental regularities that may guide further tests
Keywords placebo  clinical trials  reactivity
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DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2019.101177
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References found in this work BETA

Saving the Phenomena.James Bogen & James Woodward - 1988 - Philosophical Review 97 (3):303-352.
Replicability of Experiment.John D. Norton - 2015 - Theoria: Revista de Teoría, Historia y Fundamentos de la Ciencia 30 (2):229.
Disease-Mongering Through Clinical Trials.María González-Moreno, Cristian Saborido & David Teira - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 51:11-18.

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