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Dr Rachel Cooper

Dr Rachel Cooper

Senior Lecturer

County South
Lancaster University
Bailrigg
Lancaster
United Kingdom
LA1 4YL


Tel: +44 1524 594702
Office hours: Office hours are Friday 12:50-14:50.

Affiliations

Philosophy of Mind and Psychology

My major research interests lie within the philosophy of science and medicine, especially philosophy of psychiatry. My research focusses on conceptual problems around psychiatric classification, and on understanding concepts of disorder and health. My most recent book, Diagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Karnac, 2014), has just been published, and examine issues with the DSM-5, the latest edition of the classification of mental disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association. My earlier monograph Classifying Madness (Springer, 2005) also concerns philosophical problems with psychiatric classification.  I am also very interested in problems having to do with the concept of disorder. I am trying to work out what makes a condition count as a disorder, as opposed to a moral failing, or normal variation. I have written widely on this problem, and hope to finish off a book on the issue in the next couple of years. My other major publications include Psychiatry and the Philosophy of Science (2007, Acumen) which examines the ways in which psychiatric science is like and unlike more established sciences.

PhD Supervision Interests

Philosophy of science and medicine.

Especially philosophy of psychiatry; the nature of disease; metaphysics and epistemology of medicine; classification in science.

Profile

Career details

2000-2003: Lecturer in Philosophy, Bradford University.

1999-2000: Temporary Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Bristol.

Research Interests

My major research interests lie within the philosophy of science and medicine.  My research to date has culminated in three books. My first monograph 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.

My second book is called Psychiatry and the Philosophy of Science and came out in Acumen's Philosophy of Science series in 2007. This book examines the ways in which psychiatric science is like and unlike more established sciences. The book is structured around five features that distinguish psychiatric science from many other sciences. These are that a) The subject matter of psychiatry is contested, b) Psychiatry employs particular modes of explanation, c) Mental health professionals work within different paradigms, d) Psychiatry is problematically value-laden, and e) Psychiatry is essentially action-guiding. Chapters of the book examine these features, and seek to show how philosophers of science can benefit by looking at psychiatry, and how psychiatry can learn much from the philosophy of science.

My most recent book, Diagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (Karnac, 2014) evaluates the latest edition of the D.S.M.The publication of D.S.M-5 in 2013 brought many changes. Diagnosing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders asks whether the D.S.M.-5 classifies the right people in the right way. It is aimed at patients, mental health professionals, and academics with an interest in mental health. Issues addressed include: How is the D.S.M. affected by financial links with the pharmaceutical industry? To what extent were patients involved in revising the classification? How are
diagnoses added to the D.S.M.? Does medicalization threaten the idea that anyone is normal? What happens when changes to diagnostic criteria mean that people lose their diagnoses? How important will the D.S.M. be in the future?

Looking ahead, over the next couple of years I plan to write a book on the concept of disease. This book will develop the account of disease that I proposed in my 2002 paper "Disease".

Research Grants

From Jan 2013 - Dec 2013 I was awarded a British Academy mid-career research fellowship  for work on a project titled "Evaluating the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders".

 

In 2008 I was awarded an AHRC Research Network Grant (along with Havi Carel, UWE) for a project examining Concepts of Health, Illness and Disease.

Professional Role

British Society for the Philosophy of Science - Hon Secretary 2007-2010, committee member 2004-7

Aristotelian Society - Commitee member 2005-8

Office Hours

Office hours are Friday 12:50-14:50.

Selected Publications

Diagnosing the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders

Cooper, R. 2014 London: Karnac Books. 79 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

Psychiatry and Philosophy of Science.

Cooper, R. V. 2007 Acumen. 192 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

In Press

Duhem-Quine thesis

Cooper, R. & Blease, C. 2014 The encyclopedia of clinical psychology. Cautin, R. & Lilienfeld, S. (eds.). Wiley-Blackwell

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

Kuhnian paradigms

Blease, C. & Cooper, R. expected on 7/01/2015 The encyclopedia of clinical psychology. Cautin, R. & Lilienfeld, S. (eds.). Wiley-Blackwell

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

2014

On deciding to have a lobotomy: either lobotomies were justified or decisions under risk should not always seek to maximise expected utility

Cooper, R. 02/2014 In: Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy. 17, 1, p. 143-154 12 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Diagnosing the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders

Cooper, R. 2014 London: Karnac Books. 79 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

Shifting boundaries between the normal and the pathological: the case of mild intellectual disability

Cooper, R. 06/2014 In: History of Psychiatry. 25, 2, p. 171-186 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

2013

Avoiding false positives: zones of rarity, the threshold problem, and the DSM clinical significance criterion.

Cooper, R. 11/2013 In: Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 58, 11, p. 606-611 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Introduction

Carel, H. & Cooper, R. 2013 Health, illness & disease: philosophical essays. Carel, H. & Cooper, R. (eds.). Durham: Acumen, p. 1-20 20 p.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter

Can it be a good thing to be deaf?

Cooper, R. 2013 Deaf epistemologies: multiple perspectives on the acquisition of knowledge. Paul, P. V. & Moores, D. F. (eds.). Chicago, Ill.: Gallaudet University Press

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

What’s special about mental health and disorder?

Cooper, R. 2013 Arguing about human nature: contemporary debates. Downes, S. & Machery, E. (eds.). New York: Routledge

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

Natural kinds

Cooper, R. 2013 The Oxford handbook of philosophy and psychiatry. Fulford, K., Davies, M., Graham, G., Sadler, J., Stanghellini, G. & Thornton, T. (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

Disease mongering

Cooper, R. 1/02/2013 The international encyclopaedia of ethics. La Follette, H. (ed.). Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsEntry for encyclopedia/dictionary

2012

Is psychiatric classification a good thing?

Cooper, R. 2012 Philosophical Issues in Psychiatry II: Nosology. Kendler, K. S. & Parnas, J. (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, (International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry).

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

Being ill and getting better: recovery and accounts of disorder

Cooper, R. 2012 The recovery of people with mental illness: philosophical and related perspectives. Rudnick, A. (ed.). Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 217-235 19 p. (International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry).

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

Complicated grief: philosophical perspectives

Cooper, R. 07/2012 Complicated grief: scientific foundations for health care professionals. Stroebe, M., Schut, H. & van den Bout, J. (eds.). Routledge, p. 13-26 14 p.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

Psychiatric classification and subjective experience

Cooper, R. 04/2012 In: Emotion Review.4, 2, p. 197-202 6 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

2011

Mental health and disorder

Cooper, R. 2011 The Sage handbook of health care ethics: core and emerging issues. Chadwick, R., ten Have, H. & Meslin, E. (eds.). London: Sage, p. 251-260 10 p.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

Illness or moral failing?

Cooper, R. 2011 In: The Philosophers' Magazine. 55, p. 43-47 5 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Some classifications will be natural: forum on philosophy of classification

Cooper, R. 2011 In: Knowledge Organization. 38, 5, p. 398-404 7 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

2010

Are culture-bound syndromes as real as universally-occurring disorders?

Cooper, R. 12/2010 In: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. 41, 4, p. 325-332 8 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

2009

Is psychiatric research scientific?

Cooper, R. 2009 Psychiatry as cognitive neuroscience: philosophical perspectives. Broome, M. & Bortolotti, L. (eds.). Oxford: Oxford University Press

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

2007

Are there natural kinds in psychology?

Cooper, R. 2007 Revitalising causality: realism about causality in philosophy and social science. Groff, R. (ed.). Routledge

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

Can it be a good thing to be deaf?

Cooper, R. 2007 In: Journal of Medicine and Philosophy. 32, 6, p. 563-583 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Aristotelian accounts of disease: what are they good for?

Cooper, R. 2007 In: Philosophical Papers. 36, 3, p. 427-442 16 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Psychiatry as a value-laden science.

Cooper, R. V. 11/2007 Psychiatry and Philosophy of Science. London: Acumen, 240 p.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter

Psychiatry and Philosophy of Science.

Cooper, R. V. 2007 Acumen. 192 p.

Research output: Book/Report/ProceedingsBook

2006

What value a unicorn's horn?: a study of archaeological uniqueness and value

Coningham, R., Cooper, R. & Pollard, M. 2006 The ethics of archaeology. Scarre, G. & Scarre, C. (eds.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, p. 260-272 13 p.

Research output: Contribution in Book/Report/ProceedingsChapter (peer-reviewed)

2005

Thought experiments.

Cooper, R. V. 04/2005 In: Metaphilosophy. 36, 3, p. 328-347 20 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

2004

Why Hacking is wrong about human kinds.

Cooper, R. V. 03/2004 In: British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. 55, 1, p. 73-85 13 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

What is wrong with the DSM?

Cooper, R. V. 2004 In: History of Psychiatry. 15, 1, p. 5-25 21 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Can sociologists understand other forms of life?

Cooper, R. 2004 In: Perspectives on Science. 12, 1, p. 29-54 26 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

2002

Disease.

Cooper, R. V. 1/07/2002 In: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. 33, 2, p. 263-282 20 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

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