In Search of Psychiatric Kinds: Natural Kinds and Natural Classification in Psychiatry


In recent years both philosophers and scientists have asked whether or not our current kinds of mental disorder—e.g., schizophrenia, depression, bipolar disorder—are natural kinds; and, moreover, whether or not the search for natural kinds of mental disorder is a realistic desideratum for psychiatry. In this dissertation I clarify the sense in which a kind can be said to be “natural” or “real” and argue that, despite a few notable exceptions, kinds of mental disorder cannot be considered natural kinds. Furthermore, I contend that psychopathological phenomena do not cluster together into kinds in the way that paradigmatic natural kinds (e.g., chemical kinds and species) do; and, in light of this fact, I conclude that the normative ideal of natural classification—i.e. classifying real or natural kinds—is not appropriate as a general strategy for psychiatry. In the conclusion to this dissertation I propose an alternative way forward. Rather than assuming a priori that psychopathological phenomena cluster together into kinds, a more tractable and theoretically promising approach would be to first explain how particular kinds of experiences and behaviours—e.g, hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, mania, low mood, etc.—are produced.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 92,323

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

  • Only published works are available at libraries.

Similar books and articles

Are psychiatric kinds real?Helen Beebee & Nigel Sabbarton-Leary - 2010 - European Journal of Analytic Philosophy 6 (1):11-27.
Kinds of kinds: A conceptual taxonomy of psychiatric categories.Nick Haslam - 2002 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 9 (3):203-217.
Are Natural Kinds and Natural Properties Distinct?Emma Tobin - 2013 - In Stephen Mumford & Matthew Tugby (eds.), Metaphysics and Science. Oxford University Press. pp. 164-182.
The metaphysics of natural kinds.Alexander Bird - 2018 - Synthese 195 (4):1397-1426.
Muhammad Ali Khalidi: Natural Categories and Human Kinds. Classification in the Natural and Social Sciences.Georg Theiner - 2016 - Journal for General Philosophy of Science / Zeitschrift für Allgemeine Wissenschaftstheorie 47 (1):247-255.
The Natural Shiftiness of Natural Kinds.Ronald de Sousa - 1984 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 14 (4):561 - 580.
Antirealism and Artefact Kinds.Marzia Soavi - 2009 - Techné: Research in Philosophy and Technology 13 (2):93-107.


Added to PP

26 (#614,438)

6 months
11 (#245,306)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations

References found in this work

The meaning of 'meaning'.Hilary Putnam - 1975 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 7:131-193.
Explaining the brain: mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience.Carl F. Craver - 2007 - New York : Oxford University Press,: Oxford University Press, Clarendon Press.
The social construction of what?Ian Hacking - 1999 - Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

View all 100 references / Add more references