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Philosophy of psychiatry

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-Q151-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 2023
Retrieved May 22, 2024, from

Article Summary

Psychiatry is a branch of medicine that aims to scientifically understand the causes of mental disorders and develop effective clinical interventions to address the needs of those experiencing them. Philosophy of psychiatry is concerned with conceptual and practical issues pertaining to mental disorders, their diagnosis, scientific investigation, ethical treatment, and experiences of individuals affected by them, as well as philosophical issues on the place of psychiatry in broader areas of inquiry in medicine and bioethics. It encompasses a variety of topics of interest not only to philosophers, but also to the general public, including the definition of mental disorders, their diagnosis according to medical manuals, features of particular disorders (e.g., substance abuse disorders, depression, autism spectrum disorders), the sources of information about mental disorders (e.g., fMRI studies, clinical trials, first-person reports), ethical issues surrounding the clinical treatment of individuals with mental disorders, and cognate concepts such as the self, rationality, and responsibility.

A thoroughly interdisciplinary form of inquiry, philosophy of psychiatry developed out of both the traditional areas of philosophy, including metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science/cognitive science, social and political philosophy, philosophy of medicine, and ethics, and clinical contexts pertaining to medical treatment of mental disorders or mental illnesses. In the last few decades, however, philosophy of psychiatry has evolved into a cutting-edge and popular subdiscipline of philosophy in its own right, with its own dedicated journals, books, book series, societies, and conferences.

This entry provides an overview of important recent debates in philosophy of psychiatry as they map onto the fundamental areas of philosophy. §1 introduces the terminology; §2 focuses on metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of science, and medicine related themes; §3 examines themes in philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and neuroscience; §4 turns to social, political, and feminist philosophy; §5 covers issues in ethics and applied ethics.

Citing this article:
Tekin, Şerife. Philosophy of psychiatry, 2023, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-Q151-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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