‘Are mental disorders brain disorders?’ is a question of conceptual choice

Philosophical Psychology 1 (3):1-13 (2023)
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Abstract

This contribution focuses on what type of question “Are mental disorders brain disorders?” is and what task Anneli Jefferson performs in her book with the same title. I distinguish between conceptual engineering and conceptual choice, the former involving the individuation of an adequate concept for a specific goal, and the latter involving the normative problem of whether we should employ the concept at hand. I contend that Anneli Jefferson’s book is a work of conceptual engineering, which is valuable in and of itself, but that this is insufficient to answer an equally essential version of the question, “Are mental disorders brain disorders?”, namely, whether we should adopt the newly engineered concept or not, considering a broader range of goals for mental health research and practice.

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Elisabetta Lalumera
University of Bologna

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