Title

Are Mental Disorders Natural Kinds? A Plea for a New Approach to Intervention in Psychiatry

Department

Philosophy & Religious Studies

Document Type

Article

Publication Source

Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology. Volume 23, Issue 2, Pages 147-163.

Publication Date

2016-6

Abstract

Both proponents and opponents of the claim that mental disorders are natural kinds compare mental disorders to paradigmatic examples of natural kinds, to inquire into a set of properties that achieve three scientific tasks: explanation, prediction, and intervention. I argue that the comparative strategy fails to take us to any intervention-related properties of mental disorders. I replace it with what I call a trilateral strategy—a strategy guided by first-person accounts of individuals with mental disorders, and the relevant clinical and scientific work on psychopathology. I illustrate how the trilateral strategy works with a focus on schizophrenia—an example used by both sides of the debate.

DOI

10.1353/ppp.2016.0013

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