Must Depression be Irrational?

Synthese (forthcoming)
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The received view about depression in the philosophical literature is that it is defined, in part, by epistemic irrationality. This status is undeserved. The received view does not fully reflect current clinical thinking and is motivated by an overly simplistic, if not false, account of depression’s phenomenal character. Equally attractive, if not more so, is a view that says depression can be instantiated either rationally or irrationally. This rival view faces challenges of its own: it appears to entail that there are situations when not being depressed is rationally sub-optimal and that resilience to, and healthy coping strategies for avoiding, depression can be rationally remiss. I criticise an existing reply to these challenges before motivating a better one from the perspective of epistemic consequentialism.

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Dan Cavedon-Taylor
Open University (UK)


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