Hane Htut Maung
Lancaster University
In somatic medicine, diagnostic terms often refer to the disease processes that are the causes of patients' symptoms. The language used in some clinical textbooks and health information resources suggests that this is also sometimes assumed to be the case with diagnoses in psychiatry. However, this seems to be in tension with the ways in which psychiatric diagnoses are defined in diagnostic manuals, according to which they refer solely to clusters of symptoms. This paper explores how theories of reference in the philosophy of language can help to resolve this tension. After the evaluation of descriptive and causal theories of reference, I put forward a conceptual framework based on two-dimensional semantics that allows the causal analysis of diagnostic terms in psychiatry, while taking seriously their descriptive definitions in diagnostic manuals. While the framework is presented as a solution to a problem regarding the semantics of psychiatric diagnoses, it can also accommodate the analysis of diagnostic terms in other medical disciplines.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1016/j.shpsc.2015.10.001
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 71,355
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

On Denoting.Bertrand Russell - 1905 - Mind 14 (56):479-493.
On Sense and Reference.Gottlob Frege - 1960 - In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Arguing About Language. Routledge. pp. 36--56.
Meaning and Reference.Hilary Putnam - 1973 - Journal of Philosophy 70 (19):699-711.

View all 15 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Clinicians' Folk Taxonomies of Mental Disorders.Elizabeth H. Flanagan Roger K. Blashfield - 2007 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 14 (3):pp. 249-269.
Psychiatric Diagnoses: A Continuing Controversy.James L. Mathis - 1992 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 17 (2):253-261.
Getting the Personal Perspective Into View.Gloria Ayob - 2013 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 20 (2):127-130.
Reinterpreting Psychiatric Diagnoses.Peter B. Raabe - 2005 - Janus Head 8 (2):509-521.
Limitation of the Diagnostic Effort in Paediatrics.C. M. Gonzalez - 2010 - Journal of Medical Ethics 36 (11):648-651.
Subjective Boundaries and Combinations in Psychiatric Diagnoses.John Mirowsky - 1990 - Journal of Mind and Behavior 11 (3-4):407-424.
A Logical-Pragmatic Perspective on Validity.Adriano C. T. Rodrigues & Claudio E. M. Banzato - 2009 - Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences 2 (2):40-44.
Psychiatric Diagnosis, Psychiatric Power and Psychiatric Abuse.T. Szasz - 1994 - Journal of Medical Ethics 20 (3):135-138.
Textual Standardization and the DSM-5 “Common Language”.Patty A. Kelly - 2014 - Journal of Medical Humanities 35 (2):171-189.


Added to PP index

Total views
14 ( #735,166 of 2,519,513 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #407,153 of 2,519,513 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes