Against Explanatory Minimalism in Psychiatry


Authors
Tim Thornton
University of Central Lancashire
Abstract
The idea that psychiatry contains, in principle, a series of levels of explanation has been criticised both as empirically false but also, by Campbell, as unintelligible because it presupposes a discredited pre-Humean view of causation. Campbell’s criticism is based on an interventionist-inspired denial that mechanisms and rational connections underpin physical and mental causation respectively and hence underpin levels of explanation. These claims echo some superficially similar remarks in Wittgenstein’s Zettel. But attention to the context of Wittgenstein’s remarks suggests a reason to reject explanatory minimalism in psychiatry and reinstate a Wittgensteinian notion of level of explanation. Only in a context broader than the one provided by interventionism is the ascription of propositional attitudes, even in the puzzling case of delusions, justified. Such a view, informed by Wittgenstein, can reconcile the idea that the ascription mental phenomena presupposes a particular level of explanation with the rejection of an a priori claim about its connection to a neurological level of explanation
Keywords explanation  causation  understanding  Wittgenstein  psychiatry
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References found in this work BETA

Explaining the Brain.Carl F. Craver - 2009 - Oxford University Press.
Unity of Science as a Working Hypothesis.Paul Oppenheim & Hilary Putnam - 1958 - Minnesota Studies in the Philosophy of Science 2:3-36.
Imagination, Delusion and Hallucinations.Gregory Currie - 2000 - In Max Coltheart & Martin Davies (eds.), Mind and Language. Blackwell. pp. 168-183.

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