Monday, 20 February 2017

Philosophy as a research method in health research

Here is another video of me. Sorry. But it was made a year ago to promote health research methods at UCLan. Such videos persuade me of the real skills of those who make presentation both seamless and natural. I manage neither here.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Kant's schematism, Wittgenstein and David Bell on the art of judgement

Some years ago I suffered prolonged writer's block and lost the ability to write or think about philosophy. I was teaching a module on Wittgenstein at Anglia Poly whilst employed by Warwick University and I drove across the A14 every week, drinking a couple of pints and eating corn beef hash at the Tram Depot with my friend Neil Gascoigne and moaning about my inability to think.

Anglia was organising a conference on the analytic -continental divide in philosophy and he suggested, more or less arbitrarily, that I could write something about the problem raised in Kant’s schematism. Starting from David Bell’s paper on the art of judgement which connects that issue to Wittgenstein served as a prompt. Bell suggests, among other things, that the kind of understanding one has of a Jackson Pollock could serve as the right kind of middle ground between full blown conceptual understanding and something which isn't understanding at all. (So my worries about this are akin to my objections to Hannah Ginsborg's 'primitive normativity'.)

The paper wasn’t great but released the block and got me to a few conferences including in Canada. But I was never able to place it. (Mind, for example, said it was too aesthetic; the British Journal of Aesthetics said it wasn’t aesthetic enough.) So some years later I published it in a Polish theology journal. I doubt it has ever been read.

Anyway: here’s a video I have found last week on my university server of an attempt I made a couple of years ago to explain it – not very successfully - to an audience of social scientists.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Emergence, meaning and rationality

Although the word 'emergence' has never featured in any paper I have written - it is not 'in my index' as Rorty delightfully says somewhere - I was an 'emergence fellow' at Durham's Institute of Advanced Study the year my parents died. Hence as a form of singing for my supper I wrote a paper on emergence for their in-house journal before I left. It is now here.

Possibly not my best work, on rereading it, but I was distracted.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences

"Dear Colleague,
I'm pleased to inform you that the new issue of the international online journal Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences has been published, it is freely readable at:

The issue contains:
Volume 9, Issue 2, December 2016

M. Aragona
The roots of psychopathological understanding: Karl Jaspers' Verstehen and the influence of Moritz Geiger's empathy

R. Gatta & M. C. Segneri
Biographies of Asylum in Italy: Body, Illness and Rights

A. M. Petta, M. Aragona, P. Zingaretti, C. Ottaviani, G. Antonucci, A. Sarnicola, G. F. Spitoni
Psychopathology, body uneasiness and self-identity in patients with non-BED obesity compared to healthy controls

E. C. Laségue & J. Falret
La folie à deux (ou folie communiquée)

J. Korf
A short comment on the "Defence of Chalmers" by Hane Htut Maung

H. H. Maung
Two Concepts of the Mental: A Comment on Korf's Reply

Dialogues in Philosophy, Mental and Neuro Sciences proposes and includes Original Papers, Negative Experimental Results, History of Mental Concepts, New Ideas and Dialogues, as described in the guidelines for the authors.

Would you like to write a Dialogue? It is a short article (up to 600 words) freely published and without any deadline commenting another article already published on the previous issues of our Journal.
If you have any question about this Journal then please feel free to contact me at your convenience. I hope you find at least some of our publications of interest and value.
If you think someone of your friends or colleagues could be interested in our Journal please forward them this email. Anybody can register himself at our service of email-alert which will inform about new issues or other news about the Journal through an email. The service is completely free

Kind regards
Daniela Cardillo
Editorial Office

Friday, 3 February 2017

Some videos from the 2011 INPP conference in Sweden

are here following an email from Helge Malmgren.

"Dear friends, 

I hope that you are all well and do not work too much (the first half of this is true of me). 

The videos from our 2011 conference Ethics, Experience and Evidence have not been possible to watch for some time. Since I think they have a lasting value I have now put them on a new page, in a large (720p) format and using the Vimeo service. If you watch them and find anything that ought to be corrected (matters of fact or aestetic aspects), please notify me. 

With my very best wishes Helge Malmgren 

Helge Malmgren, PhD, MD, emeritus professor 
Dept. of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science Researcher, 
Dept. of Medicine, 
Sahlgrenska Academy University of Gothenburg, Sweden 

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Vagueness in Psychiatry

I have just received my copies of the OUP / IPPP book Vagueness in Psychiatry in which I have a chapter. The book itself is as pleasing in design as the rest of the series but is not too dauntingly enormous.

Vagueness in Psychiatry 

Edited by Geert Keil, Lara Keuck, and Rico Hauswald 

International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry 

  • Addresses the problem of indeterminacy in psychiatry and its social, moral and legal implications 
  • Represents the first systematic effort to draw various lines of inquiry together, including the debates about the principles of psychiatric classification, categorical versus dimensional approaches, prodromal phases and sub-threshold disorders, and the problem of over-diagnosis in psychiatry, and relates these debates to philosophical research on vagueness and demarcation problems, helping readers to navigate through the various debates surrounding the problem of blurred boundaries in the classification and diagnosis of mental illness 
  • Brings together eminent scholars from psychiatry, philosophy, and law, thus addressing a broad readership from various disciplines, and encourages interdisciplinary discussions
In psychiatry there is no sharp boundary between the normal and the pathological. Although clear cases abound, it is often indeterminate whether a particular condition does or does not qualify as a mental disorder. For example, definitions of subthreshold disorders and of the prodromal stages of diseases are notoriously contentious. 

Philosophers and linguists call concepts that lack sharp boundaries, and thus admit of borderline cases, vague. Although blurred boundaries between the normal and the pathological are a recurrent theme in many publications concerned with the classification of mental disorders, systematic approaches that take into account philosophical reflections on vagueness are rare. This book provides interdisciplinary discussions about vagueness in psychiatry by bringing together scholars from psychiatry, psychology, philosophy, history, and law. It draws together various lines of inquiry into the nature of gradations between mental health and disease and discusses the individual and societal consequences of dealing with blurred boundaries in medical practice, forensic psychiatry, and beyond. 

Part I starts with an overview chapter that helps readers to navigate through the philosophy of vagueness and through the various debates surrounding demarcation problems in the classification and diagnosis of mental illness. Part II encompasses historical and recent philosophical positions on gradualist approaches to health and disease. Part III approaches the vagueness of present psychiatric classification systems and the debates concerning their revision by scrutinizing controversial categories such as post-traumatic stress disorder and by looking into the difficulties of day-to-day diagnostic and therapeutic practice. Part IV finally focuses on social, moral, and legal implications that arise when being mentally ill is a matter of degree.

Friday, 20 January 2017

The Handbook of the Philosophy of Medicine

Bill Fulford and I have a chapter on delusion in the following book. I love the tone of excitement of the press release.

Hot off the digital press! 

The Handbook of the Philosophy of Medicine, edited by Thomas Schramme and Steven Edwards, is available now online and in print! 


This handbook... 
- Is the first comprehensive, multi-authored handbook in the field of philosophy of medicine 
- Contains articles written by distinguished specialists from multiple disciplines, including philosophy, health sciences, nursing, sociology, political theory, and medicine 
- Covers the underlying philosophical foundations of many important social, political and ethical issues in health care 

For more info, go to