Originally motivated by a sophism, Pardo's discussion about the unity of mental propositions allows him to elaborate on his ideas about the nature of propositions. His option for a non-composite character of mental propositions is grounded in an original view about syncategorems: propositions have a syncategorematic signification, which allows them to signify aliquid aliqualiter, just by virtue of the mental copula, without the need of any added categorematic element. Pardo's general claim about the simplicity of (...) class='Hi'>mental propositions is developed into several specific thesis about mental propositions: a) it is not judgement which gives its unity to mental propositions, but judicative acts always follow some previous apprehensive act that is simple in its own right; b) this simplicity is compatible with a certain kind of complexity, that can be explained in terms of the "causal history" of the acts of knowing; c) traditional conceptions about subject and predicate must be recast, while keeping their usual explicative power concerning logical properties; d) of course, the traditional conception about the copula has been modified, giving rise to a fully innovative conception of the nature of mental propositions. Nevertheless, this innovative conception of mental language seems still infected by certain "common sense" prejudices, which lead Pardo to propose also a provocative conception of vocal language, which I consider unnecessary. (shrink)
We falter and stammer when trying to describe our own mentalacts. Many mentalacts, including thinking, are what the author calls ‘chain-undertakings’, that is, courses of action with some over-arching purpose governing the moment-by-moment sub-acts of which we are introspectively aware. Hence the intermittency and sporadicness of the passage of mental activity which constitutes thinking about something.
This book is a critical and analytical survey of the major attempts, in modern philosophy, to deal with the phenomenon of intentionality—those of Descartes, Brentano, Meinong, Husserl, Frege, Russell, Bergmann, Chisholm, and Sellars. By coordinating the semantical approaches to the phenomenon, Dr. Aquila undertakes to provide a basis for dialogue among philosophers of different persuasions. "Intentionality" has become, since Franz Brentano revived its original medieval use, the standard term describing the mind's apparently paradoxical capacity to relate itself to objects existing (...) in the world. One approach to the phenomenon emphasizes the mental act. The author argues that the most adequate account involves elements of both approaches. Contemporary treatments tend to formulate problems of intentionality primarily in terms of logic and semantics rather than those of metaphysics and phenomenology. Dr. Aquila's effort to coordinate these approaches will make his book useful to students both of analytical philosophy of mind and also of phenomenology. (shrink)
Objectives: The mental health legislation of most developed countries includes either a dangerousness criterion or an obligatory dangerousness criterion (ODC). A dangerousness criterion holds that mentally ill people may be given treatment without consent if they are deemed to be a risk to themselves or others. An ODC holds that mentally ill people may be given treatment without consent only if they are deemed to be a risk to themselves or others. This paper argues that the dangerousness criterion is (...) unnecessary, unethical and, in the case of the ODC, potentially harmful to mentally ill people and to the rest of the community. Methods: We examine the history of the dangerousness criterion, and provide reasoned argument and empirical evidence in support of our position. Results: Dangerousness criteria are not required to balance the perceived loss of autonomy arising from mental health legislation. Dangerousness criteria unfairly discriminate against the mentally ill, as they represent an unreasonable barrier to treatment without consent, and they spread the burden of risk that any mentally ill person might become violent across large numbers of mentally ill people who will never become violent. Mental health legislation that includes an ODC is associated with a longer duration of untreated psychosis, and probably contributes to a poorer prognosis and an increase risk of suicide and violence in patients in their first episode of psychosis. Conclusions: Dangerousness criteria should be removed from mental health legislation and be replaced by criteria that focus on a patient’s capacity to refuse treatment. (shrink)
My topic in this paper is the nature of faith. Much of the discussion concerning the nature of faith proceeds by focussing on the relationship between faith and belief. In this paper, I explore a different approach. I suggest that we approach the question of what faith involves by focussing on the relationship between faith and action. When we have faith, we generally manifest it in how we act; we perform acts of faith: we share our secrets, rely on (...) other’s judgment, refrain from going through our partner’s emails, let our children prepare for an important exam without our interference. Religious faith, too is manifested in acts of faith: attending worship, singing the liturgy, fasting, embarking on a pilgrimage. I argue that approaching faith by way of acts of faith, reveals that faith is a complex mental state whose elements go beyond doxastic states towards particular propositions. It also involves conative states and – perhaps more surprisingly – know how. This has consequences for the epistemology of faith: the role of testimony and experts, the importance of practices, and what we should make of Pascal’s advice for how to acquire faith. (shrink)
A prominent but poorly understood domain of human agency is mental action, i.e., thecapacity for reaching specific desirable mental statesthrough an appropriate monitoring of one's own mentalprocesses. The present paper aims to define mentalacts, and to defend their explanatory role againsttwo objections. One is Gilbert Ryle's contention thatpostulating mentalacts leads to an infinite regress.The other is a different although related difficulty,here called the access puzzle: How can the mindalready know how to act in order to (...) reach somepredefined result? A crucial element in the solutionof these puzzles consists in making explicit thecontingency between mentalacts and mentaloperations, parallel to the contingency betweenphysical acts and bodily movements. The paper finallydiscusses the kind of reflexivity at stake in mentalacts; it is shown that the capacity to refer tooneself is not a necessary condition of the successfulexecution of mentalacts. (shrink)
Peter Hanks and Scott Soames have recently developed similar views of propositional attitudes on which they consist at least partly of being disposed to perform mentalacts. Both think that to believe a proposition is at least partly to be disposed to perform the primitive propositional act: one the performance of which is part of the performance of any other propositional act. However, they differ over whether the primitive act is the forceless entertaining or the forceful judging. In (...) this paper I argue that Soames’s “forceless” approach has an advantage over Hanks’s “forceful” approach which faces a serious problem. (shrink)
A remarkable philosophical affinity may be observed between the intuitionistic conception of mathematics and the transformational generative approach to the study of language: both disciplines profess a mentalistic ontology, both posit an idealized subject, and both insist on their autonomy with respect to other disciplines. This philosophical parallel is formalized in terms of a generalization of the intuitionistic notion of creative subject; resulting are the foundations of a unified theory of mentalacts based on intuitionistic logic — capturing, (...) inter alia , similarities between proof acts and speech acts. As an application of the theory, it is then shown how the notion of mental act may provide for an insightful formalization of various hypotheses pertaining to the linguistic dependence or relativity of mathematics. (shrink)
It has become popular of late to identify the phenomenon of thinking a singular thought with that of thinking with a mental file. Proponents of the mental files conception of singular thought claim that one thinks a singular thought about an object o iff one employs a mental file to think about o. I argue that this is false by arguing that there are what I call descriptive mental files, so some file-based thought is not singular (...) thought. Descriptive mental files are mental files for which descriptive information plays four roles: determines which object the file is about, if any, it sets limits on possible mistakes that fall within the scope of successful reference for the file, it acts as a ‘gatekeeper’ for the file, and it determines persistence conditions for the file. Contrary to popular assumption, a description playing these roles is consistent with the file-theoretic framework. Recognising this allows us to distinguish the notion of singular thought from that of file-thinking and better understand the nature and role of both. (shrink)
A remarkable philosophical affinity may be observed between the intuitionistic conception of mathematics and the transformational generative approach to the study of language: both disciplines profess a mentalistic ontology, both posit an idealized subject, and both insist on their autonomy with respect to other disciplines. This philosophical parallel is formalized in terms of a generalization of the intuitionistic notion of creative subject; resulting are the foundations of a unified theory of mentalacts based on intuitionistic logic — capturing, (...) inter alia, similarities between proof acts and speech acts. As an application of the theory, it is then shown how the notion of mental act may provide for an insightful formalization of various hypotheses pertaining to the linguistic dependence or relativity of mathematics. (shrink)
This chapter examines whether, and in what sense, one can speak of agentive mental events. An adequate characterization of mentalacts should respond to three main worries. First, mentalacts cannot have pre-specified goal contents. For example, one cannot prespecify the content of a judgment or of a deliberation. Second, mentalacts seem to depend crucially on receptive attitudes. Third, it does not seem that intentions play any role in mental actions. Given (...) these three constraints, mental and bodily actions appear to have a significantly different structure. A careful analysis of the role of normative requirements, distinguishing them from instrumental reasons, allows the distinction between mental and bodily forms of action to be clarified. Two kinds of motives must be present for a mental act to develop. The first kind is instrumental: a mental act is performed because of some basic informational need, such as the need to "remember the name of that play". The second kind is normative: given the specific type of mental action performed, there is a specific epistemic norm relevant to that act. These two motives actually correspond to different phases of a single mental act. The first motivates the mental act, i.e. makes salient the corresponding goal. The second offers an evaluation of the feasibility of the act, on the basis of its constitutive normative requirement. Conceived in this way, a characterization of mentalacts avoids the three difficulties mentioned above. The possibility of pre-specifying the outcome of epistemic mentalacts is blocked by the fact that such acts are constituted by strict normative requirements. That mentalacts include receptive features is shown to be a necessary architectural constraint for mental agents to be sensitive to epistemic requirements. Finally, the phenomenology of intending is shown to be absent in most mentalacts; the motivational structure of mentalacts is, rather, associated with error- signals and self-directed doubtings. Mentalacts need to be recognized as a natural kind of action meant to normatively control and enhance cognitive efficiency according to current processing needs. (shrink)
In this paper I first try to clarify the essential features of tropes and then I use the resulting analysis to cope with the problem of mental causation. As to the first step, I argue that tropes, beside being essentially particular and abstract, are simple, where such a simplicity can be considered either from a phenomenal point of view or from a structural point of view. Once this feature is spelled out, the role tropes may play in solving (...) the problem of mental causation is evaluated. It is argued that no solution based on the determinable/determinate relation is viable without begging the question as regards the individuating conditions of the related properties. Next, it is shown that Robb’s solution, much in the spirit of Davidson’s anomalous monism, entails abandoning the assumption that tropes are essentially simple, a consequence that I find not acceptable. My conclusion is that these entities are of no help in solving the problem of mental causation, and that a universalist approach should be preferred. (shrink)
It is an indubitable fact that our thoughts are always about something or some state of affairs in the world. Again, it is true that we use language to express some of our thoughts, and that in such a use of language which philosophers call a speech act, language also comes to be about something or some state of affairs in the world. E.g., when someone asserts that Peter is married to Mary, the sentence, 'Peter is married to Mary', comes (...) to be about the state of affairs of Peter's being married to Mary. This property of being about something which characterizes our thoughts and speech acts is called "intentionality" by philosophers. ;In Intentionality, John Searle claims that the Intentionality of language and the Intentionality of speech acts performed by using language is derived from the intrinsic Intentionality of mental states which accompany the speech act. In the dissertation I propose to examine this claim of Searle's. ;Searle's view regarding the Intentionality of speech acts is incomplete and wrong. Searle does not show how the Intentionality of referring and predicating in a speech act is to be derived from mental reference and mental predication in the corresponding mental state. In this sense his theory is incomplete. Further, his theory is false. Taking the case of belief, I propose to show that it cannot be the source of the Intentionality of the corresponding assertion. Either a belief is a disposition and does not have any Intentionality or it is a mental act of accepting a proposition in which case the Intentionality of the belief and the Intentionality of the assertion have the same linguistic nature and the former cannot be the source of the latter. We are faced with a dilemma which shows that Searle's view cannot be correct. In the dissertation it will be argued that the Intentionality of a speech act is as intrinsic to it as the Intentionality of a mental phenomenon is to the mental phenomenon. The nature of speech act referring and predicating, mental referring and predicating, linguistic concepts and linguistic acts using those concepts will be discussed. (shrink)
There are 12 different Mental Health Acts in Canada, all of which provide for the involuntary confinement of the mentally disordered to protect both them from themselves and others from them. The Acts differ in many ways, but three issues stand out above all: involuntary admission criteria, the right to refuse treatment, and who has the authority to authorize treatment. I first describe how the MHAs differ on these issues. I then take up the methodological question of (...) how to select or construct a MHA from the many, all of which have something to be said for them. Finally, I apply this test to the three main issues in dispute and identify which solutions would be in an ideal MHA. My aim in this last is not to settle the issues but to engage with them and so deepen our understanding of what is at stake. (shrink)
The most obvious cases of ego-involvement in conscious life are those which Husserl calls conscious acts or cogitationes. They are the most obvious cases because they are the ones in which the ego explicitly involves himself in some way ; they exhibit the character of being engaged in by the ego or having been engaged in by him. This ego-quality or character belongs demonstrably to every conscious process in which the ego engages or lives. In the ego's conscious life, (...) the life to which his, her, or its acts belong, there also occur mental or intentive processes in which the ego does not or did not engage, and these Husserl calls passive or non-actional processes as contrasted with the active or actional processes characterized by egoengagement. (shrink)
Reid is well known for rejecting the "philosophy of ideas"--a theory of mental representation that he claimed to find in its most vitriolic form in Hume. But there was another component of Hume's philosophy that exerted an equally powerful influence on Reid: Hume's attack on the notion of spiritual substance in _Treatise 1.4.5. I summarize this neglected aspect of Hume's philosophy and argue that much of Reid's epistemology can be explained as an attempt to buttress dualism against the effects (...) of Hume's critique. (shrink)
Mental health acts allow for interference with the liberty of the individual. As such, they serve as test cases for theories of liberty, and thus the question of what Mill would think about them arises. My aim is to answer this question. I argue that Mill would embrace mental health acts to protect mentally disturbed individuals from themselves and others from them, and that they should have broad admission criteria, allow capable patients to refuse treatment, and (...) have treatment decisions made by patients or their families on the basis of substituted judgements rather than representatives of the state acting on best interest judgements. This interpretation will show that many writers who claim Mill's support cannot properly do so. It is also a combination of views that cannot be readily found in mental health acts themselves, but which, as Mill's reasons for it show, is a serious candidate for legislative adoption. (shrink)
In recent philosophical debates about the nature of human emotions the intentionality of emotions plays a key part. The article explores how medieval philosophers of the late 13th and early 14th centuries accounted for the fact that our emotions, such as love, hate, anger and the like, are intentional mental states, states that are ‘of’ or ‘about something’. Since medieval philosophers agree that emotions are essentially movements of the appetitive powers, the intentionality of emotions is part of the broader (...) problem of the intentionality of our appetitive acts. Do emotions and other appetitive acts derive their intentionality from the relevant cognitive acts on which their occurrence depends? And if so, how? Are appetitive acts intrinsically intentional states? The contribution discusses these and similar questions, while special attention is given to authors such as Thomas Aquinas, Henry of Ghent, Thomas of Bailly, Adam Wodeham and Gregory of Rimini. (shrink)
In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:I. William of Ockham and Mental SynonymyIn recent years an important point of discussion among the scholars of William of Ockham has been the possibility of accounting for a reductionist interpretation of Ockham's mental language. Especially, the debate focused on the legitimacy of eliminating connotative simple terms from mental language by reducing them to their nominal definition. The distinction between absolute and connotative terms plays an (...) important role in Ockham's philosophy of language. Ockham introduces it as a subdivision of the class of categorematic terms, i.e. of the terms provided with signification, and such a distinction overlaps that between concrete and abstract terms. In the Summa Logicae, Part I, chap. 10, devoted to the explanation of such a distinction, Ockham makes three major claims concerning connotative terms.First, unlike absolute simple terms, connotative simple terms signify something primarily and something else secondarily. Paradigmatic examples of connotative simple terms are 'white' and 'father,' while instances of absolute terms are 'animal,' 'man,' and 'whiteness.' The term 'white' is connotative for it signifies something primarily while co-signifying something else secondarily .Second, unlike absolute simple terms, connotative simple terms do not have a real definition but only a nominal one. While a real definition is intended to capture the real essence of the defined thing, a nominal definition is none other than a linguistic explication of a name's signification. Only concrete and abstract terms of the category of substance, and abstract terms of the category of quality, can have a real definition. The reason is that, for Ockham, only individual substances and qualities can exist outside the mind, therefore only such entities can be grasped immediately and directly, by means of acts of intelligible intuitive cognition. Any other term can have only a nominal definition, for each of them can make reference to nothing but to fictive or only putatively existent entities. A nominal definition, in particular, is made in such a way that something is expressed in recto and something else in obliquo . Ockham indicates 'something having whiteness' as the nominal definition of 'white': in it, 'something' is expressed in recto, while 'whiteness' in obliquo.Third and finally, Ockham says that a connotative term has only one nominal definition, while an absolute term can have several real definitions.According to these claims, the problem of the existence of connotative terms in mental language might be reconstructed as follows. Ockham holds to two fundamental tenets about mental language and connotation: first, synonymous terms cannot be found in mental language and second, each connotative simple term can have only one nominal definition, as was said. Ockham is unequivocal about these principles in his works. But if an interpreter also supposes Ockham subscribing to the view that connotative simple terms are synonymous with their nominal definitions, the interpreter must conclude that, for Ockham, connotative simple terms and their nominal definitions cannot both be present in mental language. Nonetheless, since Ockham seems to admit the existence of both connotative simple terms and their nominal definitions in mental language, one of the previous sentences needs to be revised.Up to this day many proposals of revision have been put on the table, but it seems to me that they can be reduced to three principal ones.The first proposal suggests reconsidering claim , while preserving the reasoning -, since - are claims Ockham indisputably states. As is known, this was Paul V. Spade's initial position. The gist of Spade's influential argument was that connotative simple terms cannot exist in mental language for if they did, they would be synonymous with their fully expanded nominal definitions. According to , though, synonymy cannot be found in mental language. But Ockham grants the.. (shrink)
In ‘The Power of God’ (Gleeson 2010) I elaborate and defend an argument by the late D.Z. Phillips against definitions of omnipotence in terms of logical possibility. In ‘Which God? What Power? A Response to Andrew Gleeson’ (Hasker 2010), William Hasker criticizes my defense of Phillips’ argument. Here I contend his criticisms do not succeed. I distinguish three definitions of omnipotence in terms of logical possibility. Hasker agrees that the first fails. The second fails because negative properties (like disembodiedment and (...)simplicity) do not amount to a nature that licenses the attribution of causal powers. The third fails because it does not identify actions that can be performed without a body. It cannot be saved by appeal to the idea of purely mentalacts. (shrink)
Mutual perceptual knowledge is a prevalent feature of our everyday lives, yet appears to be exceptionally difficult to characterise in an acceptable way. This paper argues for a renewed understanding of Stephen Schiffer’s iterative approach to mutual knowledge, according to which mutual knowledge requires an infinite number of overlapping, embedded mental states. It is argued that the charge of ‘psychological implausibility’ that normally accompanies discussion of this approach can be offset by identifying mutual knowledge, not with the infinite iterations (...) themselves, but with the finite base which Schiffer proves is capable of generating those iterations. An understanding of this finite base as a primitive, relational property holding between two or more people, allows us to understand the iterations as an implicit and ‘harmless’ intrapersonal feature of what is an interpersonal phenomenon. The paper concludes by relating the account to joint attention in infant interaction. (shrink)
This chapter examines the mechanistic psychology of Descartes in the _Passions_, while also drawing on the _Treatise on Man_. It develops the idea of a Cartesian “psychology” that relies on purely bodily mechanisms by showing that he explained some behaviorally appropriate responses through bodily mechanisms alone and that he envisioned the tailoring of such responses to environmental circumstances through a purely corporeal “memory.” An animal’s adjustment of behavior as caused by recurring patterns of sensory stimulation falls under the notion of (...) “learning,” behavioristically conceived. Indeed, Descartes’s animal-machine hypothesis may well be a distant ancestor to Watsonian behaviorism, via T. H. Huxley (1884). The final two sections of the chapter take stock of what psychological capacities Descartes ascribed to mind, body, or both, and consider those capacities that we might now plausibly construe as being explicable by nonmentalistic mechanisms as opposed to those that at present remain unreducedly mentalistic. -/- This chapter derives from a lecture delivered at the University of King's College (Halifax, Nova Scotia) as part of a year-long series on Descartes and the Modern. The lecture series was co-sponsored by the programs in History of Science and Early Modern and Contemporary Studies. (shrink)
It is a live possibility that certain of our experiences reliably misrepresent the world around us. I argue that tracking theories of mental representation have difficulty allowing for this possibility, and that this is a major consideration against them.
Husserl introduces a phenomenological concept called “motivation” early in the First Investigation of his magnum opus, the Logical Investigations. The importance of this concept has been overlooked since Husserl passes over it rather quickly on his way to an analysis of the meaningful nature of expression. I argue, however, that motivation is essential to Husserl’s overall project, even if it is not essen- tial for defining expression in the First Investigation. For Husserl, motivation is a relation between mental (...) class='Hi'>acts whereby the content of one act make some fur- ther meaningful content probable. I explicate the nature of this relation in terms of “evidentiary weight” and differentiate it from Husserl’s notion of Evidenz, often translated as “self-evidence”. I elucidate the importance of motivation in Husserl’s overall phenomenological project by focusing on his analyses of thing-perception and empathy. Through these examples, we can better understand the continuity between the Logical Investigations and Husserl’s later work. (shrink)
In what follows, I appeal to Charles Babbage’s discussion of the division of mental labor to provide evidence that—at least with respect to the social acquisition, storage, retrieval, and transmission of knowledge—epistemologists have, for a broad range of phenomena of crucial importance to actual knowers in their epistemic practices in everyday life, failed adequately to appreciate the significance of socially distributed cognition. If the discussion here is successful, I will have demonstrated that a particular presumption widely held within the (...) contemporary discussion of the epistemology of testimony—a presumption that I will term the personalist requirement—fails to account for those very practices of knowers that I detail here. I will then conclude by suggesting that an alternate account of testimonial warrant, one that has heretofore been underappreciated, ought to be given more serious consideration—in particular because it is well suited to account for those actual practices of knowers that the personalist requirement leaves unrecognized. (shrink)
The crucial problem in the philosophy of psychiatry is to determine under which conditions certain behaviors, mental states, and personality traits should be regarded as symptoms of mental illnesses. Participants in the debate can be placed on a continuum of positions. On the one side of the continuum, there are naturalists who maintain that the concept of mental illness can be explained by relying on the conceptual apparatus of the natural sciences, such as biology and neuroscience. On (...) the other side of the continuum, there are normativists who maintain that the appropriate characterization of the concept of mental illness cannot avoid reference to epistemic, moral and other social values. Although, this article is primarily an introduction to the debate, we stress the importance of the normativist positions. (shrink)
The ontology of language is concerned with the relations between uses of language, both overt and covert, and other entities, whether in the world or in the mind of the thinking subject. We attempt a first survey of the sorts of relations which might come into question for such an ontology, including: relations between referring uses of expressions and their objects, relations between the use of a (true) sentence and that in the world which makes it true, relations between (...) class='Hi'>mentalacts on the one hand and underlying mental states (attitudes, beliefs), on the other, relations between my acts and states, associated uses of language and overt actions on my part and on the part of those other subjects with whom I communicate. (shrink)
In these comments I am going to argue that Yiwei Zheng's paper, by postulating an imaginary mental language in a proposed new interpretation of Ockham's conception of mental language, provides us with an imaginary solution to what turns out to be an imaginary problem. Having said this, however, I hasten to add that the paper has undeniable merits in pointing us in the right direction for revealing the imaginary character of the problem.
What is the scope of our conscious mental agency, and how do we acquire self-knowledge of it? Both questions are addressed through an investigation of what best explains our inability to form judgemental thoughts in direct response to practical reasons. Contrary to what Williams and others have argued, it cannot be their subjection to a truth norm, given that our failure to adhere to such a norm need not undermine their status as judgemental. Instead, it is argued that we (...) cannot form judgements at will because we subjectively experience them as responses to epistemic reasons, and because this is incompatible with our experiential awareness of direct mental actions, such as instances of imagining. However, this latter awareness does not extend to indirect agency, which relies on epistemic or causal processes as means. Judging may therefore still count as an indirect action - just like, say, breaking a window by throwing a stone. (shrink)
Classifying Madness (Springer, 2005) concerns philosophical problems with the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, more commonly known as the D.S.M. The D.S.M. is published by the American Psychiatric Association and aims to list and describe all mental disorders. The first half of Classifying Madness asks whether the project of constructing a classification of mental disorders that reflects natural distinctions makes sense. Chapters examine the nature of mental illness, and also consider whether mental disorders (...) fall into natural kinds. The second half of the book addresses epistemic worries. Even supposing a natural classification system to be possible in principle, there may be reasons to be suspicious of the categories included in the D.S.M. I examine the extent to which the D.S.M. depends on psychiatric theory, and look at how it has been shaped by social and financial factors. I aim to be critical of the D.S.M. without being antagonistic towards it. Ultimately, however, I am forced to conclude that although the D.S.M. is of immense practical importance, it is unlikely to come to reflect the natural structure of mental disorders. (shrink)
The aim of this note is to complete the discussion on the possibility of creation of quantum-like (QL) representation for the question order effect which was presented by Wang and Busemeyer (2013). We analyze the role of a fundamental feature of mental operators (given, e.g., by questions), namely, their complementarity.
According to the predominant view within contemporary philosophy of psychiatry, mental disorders involve essentially personal and societal values, and thus, the concept of mental disorder cannot, even in principle, be elucidated in a thoroughly objective manner. Several arguments have been adduced in support of this impossibility thesis. My critical examination of two master arguments advanced to this effect by Derek Bolton and Jerome Wakefield, respectively, raises serious doubts about their soundness. Furthermore, I articulate an alternative, thoroughly objective, though (...) in part normative, framework for the elucidation of the concept of mental disorder. The concepts of mental dysfunction and impairment of basic psychological capacities to satisfy one’s basic needs are the building blocks of this framework. I provide an argument for the objective harmfulness of genuine mental disorders as patterns of mental dysfunctions with objectively negative biotic values, as well as a formally correct definition of the concept of mental disorder. Contrary to the received view, this objective framework allows for the possibility of genuine mental disorders due to adverse social conditions, as well as for quasi-universal mental disorders. I conclude that overall, the project of providing an objective account of the concept of mental disorder is far from impossible, and moreover, that it is, at least in principle, feasible. (shrink)