Early Career Scholars Conference in Philosophy of Psychiatry: Overcoming Mind-Brain Dualism in 21st Century Medicine
21-22, November 2014
Center for Philosophy of Science
817 Cathedral of Learning
University of Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh, PA USA
We invite the submission of extended abstracts by early career scholars (graduate students, post-docs, and untenured faculty) for individual paper presentations (limit 30 minutes). Submissions should include a 1,000 word abstract, a 1-2 page CV, and should be in .doc/.docx or .pdf format via email.
Summary: The goal of this conference is to address the crisis in psychiatric research and treatment by exploring the ways in which the mind-brain dualism can be overcome in contemporary psychiatry.
Psychiatry’s aspirations as a branch of medicine are often in conflict with its aspirations as a branch of science. As a branch of medicine, it aims to clinically address the complaints of individuals with mental disorders, including the subjective, mental, and first- person aspects of psychopathology (such as feelings of worthlessness and hallucinations). As a branch of science, on the other hand, it targets the objective, embodied, and third-person correlates of mental distress (such as atypical brain mechanisms and behavioral anomalies). The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the psychiatric taxonomy used in the US and increasingly around the world, has traditionally been employed to identify both the scientific and medical targets of psychiatry, as well as in the service of sociological, pedagogical, and forensic projects. In attempting to be everything for psychiatry, however, the manual has succeeded in fully pleasing no one. The virtually universal dissatisfaction with contemporary nosology has led to a tension between critics who argue the way forward is focusing on the needs of the clinic and those who believe psychiatry should work harder to resemble the sciences.
We believe that the resolution of this dilemma is hindered by a contemporary form of dualism, in which psychiatric disorders are seen as either disembodied problems in living or as subtypes of somatic disease. There is a tendency to perceive the etiology of psychiatric disorders as either brain-based (organic or biological), to be investigated by the biomedical sciences, or mind-based (functional or psychological), to be investigated by behavior-based schemas such as the DSM or patient-centered approaches that take a more holistic approach to disorder. There is also a tendency to divide psychiatric treatments into those that directly target the brain, e.g., antidepressants, and those that purportedly target the mind, e.g., cognitive behavior therapy, -- often to the detriment of the latter. While significant work has been done to overcome the dualistic conception of persons in the contemporary philosophy of cognitive science and in the philosophy of neuroscience, the results of these debates have not been fully transferred to the domain of psychiatry.
The goal of this conference is to address the crisis in psychiatric research and treatment by exploring the ways in which the mind-brain dualism can be overcome in contemporary psychiatry through an integration of approaches from philosophy of mind, philosophy of science (including philosophy of cognitive science and neuroscience) and philosophy of medicine. One goal of such re-evaluation is to reconcile the claim that psychopathology needs to be scientific with the claim that it needs to keep the experience of the sufferer at its core.
Format of Conference: The conference will take place over two days. Eight papers by early career scholars (graduate students, postdocs, and untenured faculty) will be commented on by senior philosophers who have expertise in philosophy of science, philosophy of neuroscience, or philosophy of medicine.
By matching each junior presenter with a senior commentator, our aim is to give junior scholars an opportunity to receive thoughtful and targeted feedback on their work and to facilitate lively discussions. Further, this format will initiate junior-mentor relationships that will help strengthen the philosophy of psychiatry community.
Each presenter will be given 25 minutes for his or her paper, followed by 15 minutes for commentary and 15 minutes for discussion.
If you are a senior scholar and would like to participate in the conference as a speaker or commentator, please contact Serife Tekin, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Organizing Committee: William Bechtel, Trey Boone, Mazviita Chirimuuta, Peter Machamer, Edouard Machery, Kenneth Schaffner, Kathryn Tabb, and Serife Tekin.
Jennifer Radden, PhD (Professor Emerita of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts, Boston).
John Sadler, MD (Professor of Psychiatry and Clinical Services, University of Texas Southwestern).
Mazviita Chirimuuta (University of Pittsburgh)
Peter Machamer (University of Pittsburgh)
Edouard Machery (University of Pittsburgh)
Kenneth F. Schaffner (University of Pittsburgh)
Jacqueline Sullivan (Western University)
Jonathan Tsou (Iowa State University)