Recent years have witnessed a ground swell of interest in the application of evolutionary theory to issues in psychopathology (Nesse & Williams 1995, Stevens & Price 1996, McGuire & Troisi 1998). Much of this work has been aimed at finding adaptationist explanations for a variety of mental disorders ranging from phobias to depression to schizophrenia. There has, however, been relatively little discussion of the implications that the theories proposed by evolutionary psychologists might have for the classification of mental disorders. This (...) is the theme we propose to explore. We'll begin, in Section 2, by providing a brief overview of the account of the mind advanced by evolutionary psychologists. In Section 3 we'll explain why issues of taxonomy are important and why the dominant approach to the classification of mental disorders is radically and alarmingly unsatisfactory. We will also indicate why we think an alternative approach, based on theories in evolutionary psychology, is particularly promising. In Section 4 we'll try to illustrate some of the virtues of the evolutionary psychological approach to classification. The discussion in Section 4 will highlight a quite fundamental distinction between those disorders that arise from the malfunction of a component of the mind and those that can be traced to the fact that our minds must now function in environments that are very different from the environments in which they evolved. This mis-match between the current and ancestral environments can, we maintain, give rise to serious mental disorders despite the fact that, in one important sense, there is nothing at all wrong with the people suffering the disorder. Their minds are functioning exactly as Mother Nature intended them to. In Section 5, we'll give a brief overview of some of the ways in which the sorts of malfunctions catalogued in Section 4 might arise, and sketch two rather different strategies for incorporating this etiologically. (shrink)
Jennifer Radden argues that delusions play an important role in modernist epistemology, which is preoccupied with the justification and evaluation of beliefs. Another theme running through the book is the importance of culture for attribution of delusion. Beliefs that look delusional will not be treated as pathological if they are expressions of religious views or other culturally acceptable forms of life. It is hard to see why cultural acceptability should play a role in the modernist project of justification. I suggest (...) that we think less about a philosophical project of justification and turn our attention instead to commonsense judgements of the circumstances in which we see a belief as evidence of underlying pathology. I discuss cases in which unjustified beliefs are nonetheless treated as phenomena that are consistent with our views of how healthy human beings act, and suggest that alongside folk psychology we should acknowledge a folk epistemology that embraces such instances. I suggest that delusions are beliefs that folk epistemology treats as inexplicable, and that this approach solves some of the puzzles that Radden identifies as growing out of the modernist epistemic project. (shrink)
Lisa Bortolotti argues convincingly that opponents of the doxastic view of delusion are committed to unnecessarily stringent standards for belief attribution. Folk psychology recognises many non-rational ways in which beliefs can be caused, and our attributions of delusions may be guided by a sense that delusions are beliefs that we cannot explain in any folk psychological terms.
Kendler and Schaffner have written an exemplary case study of the rise of the dopamine hypothesis and, if not its fall, at least its stagnation and transmutation. They bring out well both the state of the science and the opportunities offered by the theory to consider some famous philosophical theories of scientific progress. So well, in fact, have they done this, that I do not have a lot to say about it. I will just mention one or two points that (...) I found interesting, and then say a little about what looks to me like an omission from the story that the two Kens recount.One point they raise is the importance of competitor theories: now, there is supposed to be an old story about a quack who was apprehended during .. (shrink)
Philosophy of psychiatry has boomed in the last few years. We are now seeing a growing literature on the nature of psychiatric explanation, including work that makes contact with longstanding disputes in the philosophy of science as well as more specific work on mental disorders. This paper looks at some recent work on both representing and explaining mental illness. An emerging picture sees explanation of mental disorder as first constructing causal-statistical networks that represent disease pathways as they unfold in time, (...) and then choosing strategies for causal explanation. The epistemic problems in psychiatry are huge, and they arise from the extreme variety in the causes and trajectories of mental disorders across patients. Existing concepts of levels of explanation and mechanism may seem like an obvious epistemic armoury, but they may not fit psychiatry very well, and philosophical theories of psychiatric explanation stress different ways of trying to understand robust patterns amid the individual variation. (shrink)
Through a challenging collection of original new essays from leading philosophical scholars, the text explores some of philosophy's most hotly-debated contemporary topics, including mental representation, theory of mind, nativism, moral ...
While nothing justiﬁes atrocity, many perpetrators manifest cognitive impairments that profoundly degrade their capacity for moral judgment, and such impairments, we shall argue, preclude the attribution of moral responsibility.
Jerry Fodor has argued that a modular mind must include central systems responsible for updating beliefs, and has defended this position by appealing to shared properties of belief fixation and scientific confirmation. Peter Carruthers and Stephen Pinker have attacked this analogy between science and ordinary inference. I examine their arguments and show that they fail. This does not show that Fodor's more general position is correct.
I distinguish three evolutionary explanations of mental illness: first, breakdowns in evolved computational systems; second, evolved systems performing their evolutionary function in a novel environment; third, evolved personality structures. I concentrate on the second and third explanations, as these are distinctive of an evolutionary psychopathology, with progressively less credulity in the light of the empirical evidence. General morals are drawn for evolutionary psychiatry.
In a series of recent works, Ian Hacking has produced a model of social causation in mental illness and begun to sketch in outline how this might be integrated with the medical model of psychiatry. This article elaborates and revises Hacking's model of social forces, criticizes him for attempting a merely semantic resolution of the tension between the social and the biological, and sketches an alternative approach that builds upon his substantial insights.