In Luca Malatesti, John McMillan & Predrag Šustar (eds.), Psychopathy: Its Uses, Validity and Status. Cham: Springer. pp. 101-119 (2022)
AbstractWe examine the philosophical and empirical issues related to the question whether psychopathy can be considered a psychiatric natural kind. Natural kinds refer to categories that are privileged because they the capture certain real divisions in nature. Generally, in philosophical debates regarding psychiatry, there is much scepticism about the possibility that psychiatric categories track natural kinds. We outline the main positions in the debate about natural kinds in psychiatry and examine whether psychopathy can be considered as a natural kind on any of the proposed accounts. By examining the scientific literature on psychopathy, we draw two main conclusions: (1) the empirical data currently do not support the view that this condition is unified enough to be considered a natural kind; (2) the construct of psychopathy plays useful roles both in the context of scientific research and in forensic and clinical settings. These considerations bring us to our tentative conclusion about psychopathy as a kind in the making, a sort of “under construction” category with potential for improvement and refinement with further research.
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