Jonathan Y. Tsou examines and defends positions on central issues in philosophy of psychiatry. The positions defended assume a naturalistic and realist perspective and are framed against skeptical perspectives on biological psychiatry. Issues addressed include the reality of mental disorders; mechanistic and disease explanations of abnormal behavior; definitions of mental disorder; natural and artificial kinds in psychiatry; biological essentialism and the projectability of psychiatric categories; looping effects and the stability of mental disorders; psychiatric classification; and the validity of (...) the DSM's diagnostic categories. The main argument defended by Tsou is that genuine mental disorders are biological kinds with harmful effects. This argument opposes the dogma that mental disorders are necessarily diseases that result from biological dysfunction. Tsou contends that the broader ideal of biological kinds offers a more promising and empirically ascertainable naturalistic standard for assessing the reality of mental disorders and the validity of psychiatric categories. (shrink)
A minimal essentialism (‘intrinsic biological essentialism’) about natural kinds is required to explain the projectability of human science terms. Human classifications that yield robust and ampliative projectable inferences refer to biological kinds. I articulate this argument with reference to an intrinsic essentialist account of HPC kinds. This account implies that human sciences (e.g., medicine, psychiatry) that aim to formulate predictive kind categories should classify biological kinds. Issues concerning psychiatric classification and pluralism are examined.
This paper addresses philosophical issues concerning whether mental disorders are natural kinds and how the DSM should classify mental disorders. I argue that some mental disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, depression) are natural kinds in the sense that they are natural classes constituted by a set of stable biological mechanisms. I subsequently argue that a theoretical and causal approach to classification would provide a superior method for classifying natural kinds than the purely descriptive approach adopted by the DSM since DSM-III. My argument (...) suggests that the DSM should classify natural kinds in order to provide predictively useful (i.e., projectable) diagnostic categories and that a causal approach to classification would provide a more promising method for formulating valid diagnostic categories. (shrink)
In psychiatry, pharmacological drugs play an important experimental role in attempts to identify the neurobiological causes of mental disorders. Besides being developed in applied contexts as potential treatments for patients with mental disorders, pharmacological drugs play a crucial role in research contexts as experimental instruments that facilitate the formulation and revision of neurobiological theories of psychopathology. This paper examines the various epistemic functions that pharmacological drugs serve in the discovery, refinement, testing, and elaboration of neurobiological theories of mental disorders. I (...) articulate this thesis with reference to the history of antipsychotic drugs and the evolution of the dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia in the second half of the twentieth century. I argue that interventions with psychiatric patients through the medium of antipsychotic drugs provide researchers with information and evidence about the neurobiological causes of schizophrenia. This analysis highlights the importance of pharmacological drugs as research tools in the generation of psychiatric knowledge and the dynamic relationship between practical and theoretical contexts in psychiatry. (shrink)
In this article, I argue that depression and suicide are natural kinds insofar as they are classes of abnormal behavior underwritten by sets of stable biological mechanisms. In particular, depression and suicide are neurobiological kinds characterized by disturbances in serotonin functioning that affect various brain areas (i.e., the amygdala, anterior cingulate, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus). The significance of this argument is that the natural (biological) basis of depression and suicide allows for reliable projectable inferences (i.e., predictions) to be made about (...) individual members of a kind. In the context of assisted suicide, inferences about the decision-making capacity of depressed individuals seeking physician-assisted suicide are of special interest. I examine evidence that depression can hamper the decision-making capacity of individuals seeking assisted suicide and discuss some implications. (shrink)
This paper examines Ian Hacking's analysis of the looping effects of psychiatric classifications, focusing on his recent account of interactive and indifferent kinds. After explicating Hacking's distinction between 'interactive kinds' (human kinds) and 'indifferent kinds' (natural kinds), I argue that Hacking cannot claim that there are 'interactive and indifferent kinds,' given the way that he introduces the interactive-indifferent distinction. Hacking is also ambiguous on whether his notion of interactive and indifferent kinds is supposed to offer an account of classifications or (...) objects of classification. I argue that these conceptual difficulties show that Hacking's account of interactive and indifferent kinds cannot be based on - and should be clearly separated from - his distinction between interactive kinds and indifferent kinds. In clarifying Hacking's account, I argue that interactive and indifferent kinds should be regarded as objects of classification (i.e., kinds of people) that can be identified with reference to a law-like biological regularity and are aware of how they are classified. Schizophrenia and depression are discussed as examples. I subsequently offer reasons for resisting Hacking's claim that the objects of classification in the human sciences - as a result of looping effects - are 'moving targets'. (shrink)
This chapter examines philosophical issues surrounding the classification of mental disorders by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). In particular, the chapter focuses on issues concerning the relative merits of descriptive versus theoretical approaches to psychiatric classification and whether the DSM should classify natural kinds. These issues are presented with reference to the history of the DSM, which has been published regularly by the American Psychiatric Association since 1952 and is currently in its fifth edition. While the (...) first two editions of the DSM adopted a theoretical (psychoanalytic) and etiological approach to classification, subsequent editions of the DSM have adopted an atheoretical and purely descriptive (“neo-Kraepelinian”) approach. It is argued that largest problem with the DSM at present—viz., its failure to provide valid diagnostic categories—is directly related to the purely descriptive methodology championed by the DSM since the third edition of the DSM. In light of this problem, the chapter discusses the prospects of a theoretical and causal approach to psychiatric classification and critically examines the assumption that the DSM should classify natural kinds. (shrink)
A large part of the controversy surrounding the publication of DSM-5 stems from the possibility of replacing the purely descriptive approach to classification favored by the DSM since 1980. This paper examines the question of how mental disorders should be classified, focusing on the issue of whether the DSM should adopt a purely descriptive or theoretical approach. I argue that the DSM should replace its purely descriptive approach with a theoretical approach that integrates causal information into the DSM’s descriptive diagnostic (...) categories. The paper proceeds in three sections. In the first section, I examine the goals (viz., guiding treatment, facilitating research, and improving communication) associated with the DSM’s purely descriptive approach. In the second section, I suggest that the DSM’s purely descriptive approach is best suited for improving communication among mental health professionals; however, theoretical approaches would be superior for purposes of treatment and research. In the third section, I outline steps required to move the DSM towards a hybrid system of classification that can accommodate the benefits of descriptive and theoretical approaches, and I discuss how the DSM’s descriptive categories could be revised to incorporate theoretical information regarding the causes of disorders. I argue that the DSM should reconceive of its goals more narrowly such that it functions primarily as an epistemic hub that mediates among various contexts of use in which definitions of mental disorders appear. My analysis emphasizes the importance of pluralism as a methodological means for avoiding theoretical dogmatism and ensuring that the DSM is a reflexive and self-correcting manual. (shrink)
This paper addresses the question of how human science categories yield projectable inferences by critically examining Ron Mallon’s ‘social role’ account of human kinds. Mallon contends that human categories are projectable when a social role produces a homeostatic property cluster (HPC) kind. On this account, human categories are projectable when various social mechanisms stabilize and entrench those categories. Mallon’s analysis obscures a distinction between transitory and robust projectable inferences. I argue that the social kinds discussed by Mallon yield the former, (...) while classifications of biological kinds yield the latter. Classifications from psychiatry (‘schizophrenia,’ ‘hysteria’) are discussed as examples. (shrink)
Abstract Recently, some philosophers of psychiatry (viz., Rachel Cooper and Dominic Murphy) have analyzed the issue of psychiatric classification. This paper expands upon these analyses and seeks to demonstrate that a consideration of the history of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) can provide a rich and informative philosophical perspective for critically examining the issue of psychiatric classification. This case is intended to demonstrate the importance of history for philosophy of psychiatry, and more generally, the potential benefits (...) of historically-informed approaches to philosophy of science. (shrink)
This paper explores Paul Feyerabend's (1924-1994) skeptical arguments for "anarchism" in his early writings between 1960 to 1975. Feyerabend's position is encapsulated by his well-known suggestion that the only principle for scientific method that can be defended under all circumstances is: "anything goes." I present Feyerabend's anarchism as a recommendation for pluralism that assumes a realist view of scientific theories. The aims of this paper are threefold: (1) to present a defensible view of Feyerabend's anarchism and its motivations, (2) to (...) articulate the minimal form of realism that such a view presupposes, and (3) to consider the implications and limitations of such a perspective in contemporary philosophy of science. (shrink)
This chapter examines the influence of the empirical sciences (e.g., physics, biology, psychology) in contemporary analytic philosophy, with focus on philosophical theories that are guided by findings from the empirical sciences. Scientific approaches to philosophy follow a tradition of philosophical naturalism associated with Quine, which strives to ally philosophical methods and theories more closely with the empirical sciences and away from a priori theorizing and conceptual analysis.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Hilary Putnam articulated a notion of relativized apriority that was motivated to address the problem of scientific change. This paper examines Putnam’s account in its historical context and in relation to contemporary views. I begin by locating Putnam’s analysis in the historical context of Quine’s rejection of apriority, presenting Putnam as a sympathetic commentator on Quine. Subsequently, I explicate Putnam’s positive account of apriority, focusing on his analysis of the history of physics and geometry. In (...) the remainder of the paper, I explore connections between Putnam’s account of relativized a priori principles and contemporary views. In particular, I situate Putnam’s account in relation to analyses advanced by Michael Friedman, David Stump, and William Wimsatt. From this comparison, I address issues concerning whether a priori scientific principles are appropriately characterized as “constitutive” or “entrenched”. I argue that these two features need to be clearly distinguished, and that only the constitutive function is essential to apriority. By way of conclusion, I explore the relationship between the constitutive function of a priori principles and entrenchment. (shrink)
This paper concerns the recent debate on the nature and motivations of the epistemological project advanced in Rudolf Carnap's (1891-1970) Aufbau. Much of this debate has been initiated by Michael Friedman and Alan Richardson who argue (against the received view of the Aufbau as a foundationalist defense of empiricism) that Carnap's epistemological project is located in the tradition of neo-Kantian epistemology. On this revisionist reading of the Aufbau, Carnap's project is not motivated to address traditional empiricist problems regarding the justification (...) of knowledge, but rather to show how objective knowledge is possible. A central aspect of the Aufbau that is neglected in the revisionists' analysis is the role of epistemic justification in Carnap's project. The aim of the present study is to argue that although the general epistemology in the Aufbau can be cast as neo-Kantian, Carnap's method of construction theory (or rational reconstruction) is formulated precisely as an empiricist method for the justification of conceptual knowledge. Construction theory radically redefines `empirical justification' into a formal-conventional notion, and is part of Carnap's more general agenda of redefining epistemology as a purely formal discipline. (shrink)
Michael Friedman’s Dynamics of Reason is a welcome contribution to the ongoing articulation of philosophical perspectives for understanding the sciences in the context of post-positivist philosophy of science. Two perspectives that have gained advocacy since the demise of the “received view” are Quinean naturalism and Kuhnian relativism. In his 1999 Stanford lectures, Friedman articulates and defends a neo-Kantian perspective for philosophy of science that opposes both of these perspectives. His proffered neo-Kantian perspective is presented within the context of the problem (...) of theory change or “scientific revolutions,” and its main feature is a conception of scientific knowledge that requires “relativized constitutive a priori principles.” The lectures make up the first part of the book; the second part of the book, “Fruits of Discussion,” is a further elaboration and defence of the ideas advanced in the lectures. The resulting book serves as a useful sequel to Friedman’s impressive historical studies in Foundations of Space-Time Theories, Kant and the Exact Sciences, and Reconsidering Logical Positivism. In the preface, Friedman tells us that this book represents the philosophical viewpoint that he has arrived at as a result of completing these works. As such, it is not surprising that the prominent themes of the book are ones that have occupied Friedman’s attention in the past, viz., the importance of a priori principles in the exact sciences, the conventionalism of the logical positivists, and, more generally, an articulation of what remains defensible in neo-Kantian philosophy of science. (shrink)
Naturalistic accounts of mental disorder aim to identify an objective basis for attributions of mental disorder. This goal is important for demarcating genuine mental disorders from artificial or socially constructed disorders. The articulation of a demarcation criterion provides a means for assuring that attributions of 'mental disorder' are not merely pathologizing different forms of social deviance. The most influential naturalistic and hybrid definitions of mental disorder identify biological dysfunction as the objective basis of mental disorders: genuine mental...
In psychiatry, pharmacological research has played a crucial role in the formulation, revision, and refinement of neurobiological theories of psychopathology. Besides being utilized as potential treatments for various mental disorders, pharmacological drugs play an important epistemic role as experimental instruments that help scientists uncover the neurobiological underpinnings of mental disorders (Tsou, 2012). Interventions with psychiatric patients using pharmacological drugs provide researchers with information about the neurobiological causes of mental disorders that cannot be obtained in other ways. This important source (...) of evidence for the biological causes of mental disorder is often overlooked in philosophical analyses of psychiatry, especially in skeptical analyses that debase the biological aspects of psychopathology (e.g., Szasz, 1960; Scheff, 1963; Laing, 1967). In discussing pharmacological interventions as a form of evidence for the physical basis of mental disorders, this paper aims to clarify the nature, reliability, and limitations of this evidence. In addition, it illustrates the central role that pharmacological findings in applied clinical contexts play in the acquisition of neurobiological knowledge in research contexts. (shrink)
Recently, some philosophers of science (e.g., Gürol Irzik, Michael Friedman) have challenged the ‘received view’ on the relationship between Rudolf Carnap and Thomas Kuhn, suggesting that there is a close affinity (rather than opposition) between their philosophical views. In support of this argument, these authors cite Carnap and Kuhn’s similar views on incommensurability, theory-choice, and scientific revolutions. Against this revisionist view, I argue that the philosophical relationship between Carnap and Kuhn should be regarded as opposed rather than complementary. In particular, (...) I argue that a consideration of the fundamentally disparate nature of the broader philosophical projects of Carnap (logic of science) and Kuhn (providing a theory of scientific revolutions)renders the alleged similarities between their views superficial in comparison to their fundamental differences. In defense of the received view, I suggest that Carnap and Kuhn are model representatives of two contrasting styles of doing philosophy of science, viz., logical analysis and historical analysis respectively. This analysis clarifies the role played by Kuhn’s Structure of Scientific Revolutions in the demise of logical empiricism in the second half of the twentieth-century. (shrink)
This paper concerns Jean Piaget's (1896–1980) philosophy of science and, in particular, the picture of scientific development suggested by his theory of genetic epistemology. The aims of the paper are threefold: (1) to examine genetic epistemology as a theory concerning the growth of knowledge both in the individual and in science; (2) to explicate Piaget's view of ‘scientific progress’, which is grounded in his theory of equilibration; and (3) to juxtapose Piaget's notion of progress with Thomas Kuhn's (1922–1996). Issues of (...) scientific continuity, scientific realism and scientific rationality are discussed. It is argued that Piaget's view highlights weaknesses in Kuhn's ‘discontinuous’ picture of scientific change. (shrink)
According to David Chalmers, the hard problem of consciousness consists of explaining how and why qualitative experience arises from physical states. Moreover, Chalmers argues that materialist and reductive explanations of mentality are incapable of addressing the hard problem. In this chapter, I suggest that Chalmers’ hard problem can be usefully distinguished into a ‘how question’ and ‘why question,’ and I argue that evolutionary biology has the resources to address the question of why qualitative experience arises from brain states. From this (...) perspective, I discuss the different kinds of evolutionary explanations (e.g., adaptationist, exaptationist, spandrel) that can explain the origins of the qualitative aspects of various conscious states. This argument is intended to clarify which parts of Chalmers’ hard problem are amenable to scientific analysis. (shrink)
An essential overview of this important intellectual movement. This latest volume in the longest-standing and most influential series in the field of the philosophy of science extends and expands on the discipline's recent historical turn. These essays take up the historical, sociological, and philosophical questions surrounding the particular intellectual movement of logical empiricism--both its emigration from Europe to North America in the 1930s and 1940s and its development in North America through the 1940s and 1950s. With an introduction placing them (...) in their philosophical and historical context, these essays bear witness to the fact that the history of the philosophy of science, far more than a mere repository of anecdote and chronology, might be able to produce a decisive transformation in the philosophy of science itself. (shrink)
This dissertation examines psychiatry from a philosophy of science perspective, focusing on issues of realism and classification. Questions addressed in the dissertation include: What evidence is there for the reality of mental disorders? Are any mental disorders natural kinds? When are disease explanations of abnormality warranted? How should mental disorders be classified? -/- In addressing issues concerning the reality of mental disorders, I draw on the accounts of realism defended by Ian Hacking and William Wimsatt, arguing that biological research on (...) mental disorders supports the inference that some mental disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, mood disorders, and anxiety disorders) are real theoretical entities, and that the evidence supporting this inference is causal and abductive. In explicating the nature of such entities, I argue that real mental disorders are natural kinds insofar as they are natural classes of abnormal behavior whose members share the same causal structure. I present this position in terms of Richard Boyd’s homeostatic cluster property theory of natural kinds, and argue that this perspective reveals limitations of Hacking’s account on the looping effects of human kinds, which suggests that the objects classified by psychiatrists are unstable entities. I subsequently argue that a subset of mental disorders (e.g., schizophrenia and Down syndrome) are mental illnesses insofar as they are disorders caused by a dysfunctional biological process that leads to harmful consequences for individuals. I present this analysis against Thomas Szasz’s argument that mental illness is a myth. -/- In addressing issues of psychiatric classification, my analysis focuses on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), which has been published regularly by the American Psychiatric Association since 1952, and is currently in its fourth edition. After examining the history of DSM in the twentieth century, and in particular, DSM’s shift to an atheoretical and purely descriptive system in the 1980s, I consider the relative merits of descriptive versus causal systems of classification. Drawing on Carl Hempel’s analysis of taxonomic systems in psychiatry, I argue that a causal classification system would provide a superior approach to psychiatric classification than the descriptive system currently favored by DSM. (shrink)
This highly multidisciplinary collection discusses an increasingly important topic among scholars in science and technology studies: objectivity in science. It features eleven essays on scientific objectivity from a variety of perspectives, including philosophy of science, history of science, and feminist philosophy. Topics addressed in the book include the nature and value of scientific objectivity, the history of objectivity, and objectivity in scientific journals and communities. Taken individually, the essays supply new methodological tools for theorizing what is valuable in the pursuit (...) of objective knowledge and for investigating its history. The essays offer many starting points, while suggesting new avenues of research. Taken collectively, the essays exemplify the very virtues of objectivity that they theorize—in reading them together, the reader can sense various anxieties about the dangerously subjective in our age and locate commonalities of concern as well as differences of approach. As a result, the volume offers an expansive vision of a research community seeking a communal understanding of its own methods and its own epistemic anxieties, struggling to enunciate the key problems of knowledge of our time and offer insight into how to overcome them. -/- (Contributors: Alex Csiszar, Scott Edgar, Peter Galison, Ian Hacking, Sandra Harding, Moira Howes, Paolo Savoia, Judy Segal, Joan Steigerwald, and Alison Wylie). (shrink)
Recently, ethicists have posited that consideration of epigenetic mechanisms presents novel challenges to concepts of justice and equality of opportunity, such as elevating the importance of environments in bioethics and providing a counterpoint to gross genetic determinism. We argue that new findings in epigenetic sciences, including those regarding intergenerational health effects, do not necessitate reconceptualization of theories of justice or the environment. To the contrary, such claims reflect a flawed understanding of epigenetics and its relation to genetics that may unintentionally (...) undermine appeals to social justice. We provide a brief summary of epigenetic sciences, focusing on phenomena central to the current ethical discourse. We identify three fallacious modes of reasoning arising from the emergent literature on the ethical and policy implications of epigenetics, including mischaracterization, undue extrapolation, and exceptionalism. We end by discussing how these issues may work against mobilizing health equity policies and present a more modest claim regarding the value of new epigenetic knowledge to health justice by setting this discourse within the context of known themes in biomedical ethics and health policy. (shrink)
This study explored the influence of the COVID-19 pandemic on perceived health behaviors; physical activity, sleep, and diet behaviors, alongside associations with wellbeing. Participants were 1,140 individuals residing in the United Kingdom, South Korea, Finland, Philippines, Latin America, Spain, North America, and Italy. They completed an online survey reporting possible changes in the targeted behaviors as well as perceived changes in their physical and mental health. Multivariate analyses of covariance on the final sample revealed significant mean differences regarding perceived physical (...) and mental health “over the last week,” as well as changes in health behaviors during the pandemic by levels of physical activity and country of residence. Follow up analyses indicated that individuals with highest decrease in physical activity reported significantly lower physical and mental health, while those with highest increase in physical activity reported significantly higher increase in sleep and lower weight gain. United Kingdom participants reported lowest levels of physical health and highest increase in weight while Latin American participants reported being most affected by emotional problems. Finnish participants reported significantly higher ratings for physical health. The physical activity by country interaction was significant for wellbeing. MANCOVA also revealed significant differences across physical activity levels and four established age categories. Participants in the oldest category reported being significantly least affected by personal and emotional problems; youngest participants reported significantly more sleep. The age by physical activity interaction was significant for eating. Discussed in light of Hobfoll conservation of resources theory, findings endorse the policy of advocating physical activity as a means of generating and maintaining resources combative of stress and protective of health. (shrink)
This editorial introduces the Journal of Consciousness Studies special issue on "Animal Consciousness". The 15 contributors and co-editors answer the question "How should we study animal consciousness scientifically?" in 500 words or fewer.