This module will involve an in depth study of a number of contemporary debates in the philosophy of mental disorder. Topics will vary from year to year, but may include the following:
• What is mental disorder? Students will be introduced to some of the key accounts of mental disorder: What is the relationship between evolutionary dysfunction and disorder? Are disorders necessarily harmful?
• Antipsychiatry/ postpsychiatry - The antipsychiatrists (and more recently postpsychiatrists) argue that the very concept of mental disorder is dubious. Are mental disorders substantially like physical disorders? Or, do diagnoses of "mental disorder" simply label behaviour that is unusual, socially stigmatised, or bad?
• Classification - Are mental disorders "natural kinds"? To what extent are values involved in the construction of psychiatric classifications?
• Conceptualising cultural variations - Do mental disorders vary from culture to culture? Would cultural variation mean that a disorder is less "real"?
• Realism and constructionism about mental disorder - What does it mean to say that a disorder is real or constructed?
• Meaning and the limits of reduction - Can symptoms be reduced to faulty brain states? Or, do symptoms such as "delusion" resist reduction?
• Responsibility and disorder - Are those with mental disorders responsible for their actions? Are psychopaths ill or simply evil?
• Identity and mental disorder - Can a disorder be central to someone's identity?
• Values in psychiatric reseach - In what ways is research in psychiatry value-laden? What are the advantages of user-led research?
Bolton, D. (2008). What is mental disorder?: an essay in philosophy, science, and values. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bolton, D. & J. Hill (1996) Mind, Meaning and Mental Disorder.Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Bracken, P., & Thomas, P. (2005). Postpsychiatry: mental health in a postmodern world. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cooper, R. (2005) Classifying Madness. Dordrcht: Springer.
Cooper, R (2007) Psychiatry and Philosophy of Science. Stocksfield: Acumen.
Foucault, M. (1988). Madness and civilization: A history of insanity in the age of reason. LLC:Random House
Glover, J. (2014). Alien Landscapes?: Interpreting Disordered Minds. Harvard: Harvard University Press.
Hacking, I. “Making up people” pp99-114 in Hacking (2002) Historical Ontology. Harvard: Harvard Uuniversity Press.
Murphy, D. (2006). Psychiatry in the scientific image. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Szasz, T. (1960) The myth of mental illness American Psychologist, 15, 113-118.
Wakefield, J. (1992) The concept of mental disorder - On the boundary between biological facts and social value. American Psychologist. 47, 373-388.
Zachar, P. (2014). A metaphysics of psychopathology. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press.