Dr Rachel CooperSenior Lecturer
2000-2003: Lecturer in Philosophy, Bradford University.
1999-2000: Temporary Lecturer in Philosophy, University of Bristol.
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 arediagnoses 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".
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.
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.
British Society for the Philosophy of Science - Hon Secretary 2007-2010, committee member 2004-7
Aristotelian Society - Commitee member 2005-8
PhD Supervision Interests
Philosophy of science and medicine.
Especially philosophy of psychiatry; the nature of disease; metaphysics and epistemology of medicine; classification in science.
Why is the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders so hard to revise?: path-dependence and “lock-in” in classification
Cooper, R. 06/2015 In: Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences. 51, p. 1-10. 10 p.
Blease, C., Cooper, R. 20/01/2015 In: The encyclopedia of clinical psychology. Wiley-Blackwell
Entry for encyclopedia/dictionary
How might I have been?
Cooper, R. 2015 In: Metaphilosophy.
Re-evaluating the DSM-I
Cooper, R., Blashfield, R. 2015 In: Psychological Medicine.
Cooper, R., Blease, C. 12/2014 In: The encyclopedia of clinical psychology. Wiley-Blackwell
Entry for encyclopedia/dictionary
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.
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.
Diagnosing the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders
Cooper, R. 2014 London : Karnac Books. 79 p. ISBN: 9781855758254.
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.
Cooper, R. 1/02/2013 In: The international encyclopaedia of ethics. Wiley-Blackwell
Entry for encyclopedia/dictionary
Can it be a good thing to be deaf?
Cooper, R. 2013 In: Deaf epistemologies. Chicago, Ill. : Gallaudet University Press
Carel, H., Cooper, R. 2013 In: Health, illness & disease. Durham : Acumen p. 1-20. 20 p. ISBN: 9781844655434.
Cooper, R. 2013 In: The Oxford handbook of philosophy and psychiatry. Oxford : Oxford University Press
What’s special about mental health and disorder?
Cooper, R. 2013 In: Arguing about human nature. New York : Routledge
Complicated grief: philosophical perspectives
Cooper, R. 07/2012 In: Complicated grief. Routledge p. 13-26. 14 p.
Psychiatric classification and subjective experience
Cooper, R. 04/2012 In: Emotion Review. 4, 2, p. 197-202. 6 p.
Being ill and getting better: recovery and accounts of disorder
Cooper, R. 2012 In: The recovery of people with mental illness. Oxford : Oxford University Press p. 217-235. 19 p.
Is psychiatric classification a good thing?
Cooper, R. 2012 In: Philosophical Issues in Psychiatry II: Nosology. Oxford : Oxford University Press
Illness or moral failing?
Cooper, R. 2011 In: The Philosophers' Magazine. 55, p. 43-47. 5 p.
Mental health and disorder
Cooper, R. 2011 In: The Sage handbook of health care ethics. London : Sage p. 251-260. 10 p.
Some classifications will be natural: forum on philosophy of classification
Cooper, R. 2011 In: Knowledge Organization. 38, 5, p. 398-404. 7 p.
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.
Is psychiatric research scientific?
Cooper, R. 2009 In: Psychiatry as cognitive neuroscience. Oxford : Oxford University Press
Psychiatry as a value-laden science.
Cooper, R.V. 11/2007 In: Psychiatry and Philosophy of Science. London : Acumen 240 p. ISBN: 978-1844651085.
Are there natural kinds in psychology?
Cooper, R. 2007 In: Revitalising causality. Routledge
Aristotelian accounts of disease: what are they good for?
Cooper, R. 2007 In: Philosophical Papers. 36, 3, p. 427-442. 16 p.
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.
Psychiatry and Philosophy of Science.
Cooper, R.V. 2007 Acumen. 192 p. ISBN: 978-1-84465-108-5.
What value a unicorn's horn?: a study of archaeological uniqueness and value
Coningham, R., Cooper, R., Pollard, M. 2006 In: The ethics of archaeology. Cambridge : Cambridge University Press p. 260-272. 13 p.
Cooper, R.V. 04/2005 In: Metaphilosophy. 36, 3, p. 328-347. 20 p.
Classifying madness: A philosophical examination of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders.
Cooper, R.V. 2005 Springer. 172 p. ISBN: 1-4020-3344-3.
Why Hacking is wrong about human kinds.
Cooper, R. 03/2004 In: British Journal for the Philosophy of Science. 55, 1, p. 73-85. 13 p.
Can sociologists understand other forms of life?
Cooper, R. 2004 In: Perspectives on Science. 12, 1, p. 29-54. 26 p.
What is wrong with the DSM?
Cooper, R. 2004 In: History of Psychiatry. 15, 1, p. 5-25. 21 p.
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.
Evaluating the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders - BA Mid-Career Fellowship
01/01/2013 → …
Vices and disorders workshop
13/03/2009 → …
The concepts of health, illness and disease
05/01/2009 → …