Psychiatric Disorders qua Natural Kinds: The Case of the “Apathetic Children”

Biological Theory 7 (2):144-152 (2013)
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In this article I examine some of the issues involved in taking psychiatric disorders as natural kinds. I begin by introducing a permissive model of natural kind-hood that at least prima facie seems to allow psychiatric disorders to be natural kinds. The model, however, hinges on there in principle being some grounding that is shared by all members of a kind, which explain all or most of the additional shared projectible properties. This leads us to the following question: what grounding do psychiatric disorders qua natural kinds have? My principal method for examining the issue is a case study of a particular psychiatric disorder: the so-called “apathetic children.” I argue that there appear to be at least two competing models that both appeal to non-organic a grounding of the disorder. However, for other psychiatric disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, the evidence points toward an organic explanation of the disorder. I contend that what unites psychiatric disorders is not a distinctive type of grounding that all psychiatric disorders share, but the distinctive set of determinable properties that is shared by all psychiatric disorders.

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Marion Godman
Cambridge University

References found in this work

Mind, Language and Reality: Philosophical Papers.Hilary Putnam - 1975 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Metaphysical Dependence: Grounding and Reduction.Gideon Rosen - 2010 - In Bob Hale & Aviv Hoffmann (eds.), Modality: metaphysics, logic, and epistemology. Oxford University Press. pp. 109-135.
Scientific Essentialism.Brian Ellis - 2001 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Real patterns.Daniel C. Dennett - 1991 - Journal of Philosophy 88 (1):27-51.

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