A Note on the Dynamics of Psychiatric Classification

Minerva - An Internet Journal of Philosophy 18 (1):27-47 (2014)
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Abstract

The question of how psychiatric classifications are made up and to what they refer has attracted the attention of philosophers in recent years. In this paper, I review the claims of authors who discuss psychiatric classification in terms referring both to the philosophical tradition of natural kinds and to the sociological tradition of social constructionism — especially those of Ian Hacking and his critics. I examine both the ontological and the social aspects of what it means for something to be a mental disorder, and how the ontological status of these disorders hinges on social causation. Finally, I conclude by suggesting a way in which the biological and the social may be reconciled in an integrative model of variation in psychiatric disorder.

Author's Profile

José Eduardo Porcher
Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro

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