Extending disorder: essentialism, family resemblance and secondary sense [Book Review]

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 16 (2):185-195 (2013)
It is commonly thought that mental disorder is a valid concept only in so far as it is an extension of or continuous with the concept of physical disorder. A valid extension has to meet two criteria: determination and coherence. Essentialists meet these criteria through necessary and sufficient conditions for being a disorder. Two Wittgensteinian alternatives to essentialism are considered and assessed against the two criteria. These are the family resemblance approach and the secondary sense approach. Where the focus is solely on the characteristics or attributes of things, both these approaches seem to fail to meet the criteria for valid extension. However, this focus on attributes is mistaken. The criteria for valid extension are met in the case of family resemblance by the pattern of characteristics associated with a concept, and by the limits of intelligibility of applying a concept. Secondary sense, though it may have some claims to be a good account of the relation between physical and mental disorder, cannot claim to meet the two criteria of valid extension
Keywords Mental disorder  Essentialism  Wittgenstein  Family resemblance  Secondary sense  Extension of concepts
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1007/s11019-011-9372-6
 Save to my reading list
Follow the author(s)
My bibliography
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Revision history Request removal from index
Download options
PhilPapers Archive

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy on self-archival     Papers currently archived: 24,479
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
Donald Davidson (2010). What Metaphors Mean. In Darragh Byrne & Max Kölbel (eds.), Critical Inquiry. Routledge. pp. 31.
Thomas S. Szasz (2004). The Myth of Mental Illness. In Arthur Caplan, James J. McCartney & Dominic A. Sisti (eds.), Ethics. Georgetown University Press. pp. 43--50.
Lennart Nordenfelt (2007). The Concepts of Health and Illness Revisited. Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 10 (1):5-10.

View all 35 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles
Bengt Brülde (2007). Mental Disorder and Values. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 14 (2):pp. 93-102.
Alfredo Gaete (2009). The Concept of Mental Disorder: A Proposal. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 15 (4):327-339.
Dusan Kecmanovic (2011). Why the Mental Disorder Concept Matters. Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences 4 (1):1-9.
Patricia A. Ross (2005). Sorting Out the Concept Disorder. Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 26 (2):115-140.
Massimiliano Aragona (2009). The Concept of Mental Disorder and the DSM-V. Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences 2 (1):1-14.
Hans Sluga (2006). Family Resemblance. Grazer Philosophische Studien 71 (1):1-21.

Monthly downloads

Added to index


Total downloads

22 ( #214,108 of 1,925,592 )

Recent downloads (6 months)

2 ( #308,517 of 1,925,592 )

How can I increase my downloads?

My notes
Sign in to use this feature

Start a new thread
There  are no threads in this forum
Nothing in this forum yet.