Thursday, 1 May 2014

Judgement, normativity and the philosophy of mental healthcare

Here is the first section of a draft summary of my research. The rest is here.

Judgement, normativity and the philosophy of mental healthcare
A synoptic review of my research

My research concerns the nature of judgement. Implicit in the idea of forming an individual judgement, or in the faculty of judgement in general, is a distinction between correctness and incorrectness. Judgement can be correct or incorrect and, further, aims at correctness. It is an essentially normative notion. But this raises the question of what underpins such normativity, what disciplines judgement, and hence the objectivity of judgement in different areas.

My work straddles mainstream philosophy and the newly developing field of philosophy and psychiatry. It critically engages with some important contemporary and twentieth century philosophers such as Wittgenstein, Davidson, McDowell, Ryle and Polanyi. But it applies the results in the analysis of issues that arise at the heart of mental healthcare. Reflecting the influence of Wittgenstein, my approach is therapeutic as opposed to systematic. Rather than attempting to construct philosophical theories, I aim instead to trace back philosophical confusions to the underlying but questionable assumptions that lead to them. Nevertheless there are some common themes concerning judgement, normativity and anti-reductionism. A central concern is to combat the idea that only judgements whose standards of correctness can be reduced to natural scientific terms or codified in general terms can be objective. Starting with work on rules and meaning, this concern runs through to moral judgement, tacit knowledge and understanding.

This document outlines the main themes of my research and their connections.
1.       Judgement and the objectivity of meaning
2.       The objectivity of other normative judgements
3.       Tacit knowledge and clinical judgement
4.       Anti-reductionism
5.       Normativity, anti-reductionism and the concept of disorder
6.       Understanding in mental healthcare

In the final section I outline my contribution to setting an agenda for the future development of philosophy and psychiatry.