Thursday, 11 June 2009

Philosophy and ethics on the MRCPsych syllabus

I’m going over to the University of Sheffield tomorrow to give a lecture on their MRCPsych course inspiringly called ‘Basic ethics and philosophy of psychiatry’. Checking on the planned new MRCPsych syllabus, there seems to be a much greater emphasis on practical skills and sensitivities which fits both a particularist approach to moral judgement and my colleague Bill Fulford’s articulation of ‘values based medicine’ rather well.

What is less well developed is the role for philosophy, summarized simply as: The history and philosophy of science as it relates to concepts of mental disorder. The problem with that is that it seems both too general and too specific. There is no way I could simply summarise all the relevant history and philosophy of science. But to focus on the concepts of disorder is to neglect all the other areas where psychiatry blurs into and thus calls for philosophical analysis (whether carried out by philosophers or psychiatrists).

This is my presentation.