Thursday 7 August 2014

Draft abstract for Amsterdam workshop this month

Draft abstract for Amsterdam workshop this month

Title: Anti-reductionist normativism: a price worth paying.

Key words: Causal explanation, intelligibility, normativity and reductionism

Abstract: There is momentum in the philosophy of psychiatry away from a picture of reductionism based on a well ordered hierarchy of levels of explanation and towards either cross level interaction or scepticism about the very idea of levels of explanation. This is a move towards explanatory pluralism and pragmatism and away from a metaphysical picture that can seem to be the unjustified imposition a priori claims about how the world must be. In this presentation, however, I will argue that the resultant austere picture carries two significant costs. First, it undermines our right to characterise states as mental states. That is, it shed no light on the intelligibility of states as mental. Second, it undermines our grasp of the pathological status of the conditions that form of the subject matter of psychiatry. Normativism offers a distinct, full blooded contrast to a reductionism of levels. Whilst it faces significant challenges, it promises to address these potential gaps in the intelligibility of the subjects of psychiatry and is thus a price worth paying.