Because biologization of psychiatric constructs does not involve derivation of laws, or reduce the number of entities involved, the traditional term of ‘reduction’ should be replaced. This paper describes biologization in terms of redefinition, which involves changing the definition of terms sharing the same extension. Redefinition obtains through triangulation and calibration, that is, respectively, detection of an object from two different spots, and tweaking parameters of detection in order to optimize the picture. The unity of the different views of the same object does not occur through derivation from one of them, as reduction suggests, nor does it obtain through mechanistic unity or the goal of explaining one mechanism, as the phrase ‘mosaic unity’ suggests. Instead, it depends on finding a specific angle of observation, from which linguistic consistency matches sound localization in the brain, so that all observations make sense together, just as an anamorphic picture makes clear sense only when observed from the right spot.
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price includes VAT for USA
Subscribe to journal
Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.
This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.
Thanks to an anonymous referee for the argument and example.
This account relies on a very clear, albeit partisan, historical presentation in Berridge (2004).
Ventral tegmental area
American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5 (5th ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Publishing.
Berridge, K. C. (2004). Motivation concepts in behavioral neuroscience. Physiology & Behavior, 81(2), 179–209. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2004.02.004.
Berridge, K. C. (2007). The debate over dopamine’s role in reward: The case for incentive salience. Psychopharmacology, 191(3), 391–431. doi:10.1007/s00213-006-0578-x.
Berridge, K. C., & Kringelbach, M. L. (2008). Affective neuroscience of pleasure: Reward in humans and animals. Psychopharmacology, 199(3), 457–480. doi:10.1007/s00213-008-1099-6.
Berridge, K. C., Robinson, T. E., & Aldridge, J. W. (2009). Dissecting components of reward: “Liking”, “wanting”, and learning. Current Opinion in Pharmacology, 9(1), 65–73. doi:10.1016/j.coph.2008.12.014.
Bickle, J. (2003). Philosophy and neuroscience: A ruthlessly reductive account. Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Carnap, R. (1991). Logical foundations of the unity of science. In R. Boyd, P. Gasper, & J. D. Trout (Eds.), The philosophy of science (pp. 393–404). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Churchland, P. S. (1989). Neurophilosophy: Toward a unified science of the mind-brain. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Craver, C. F. (2007). Explaining the brain: Mechanisms and the mosaic unity of neuroscience. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Danna, C. L., Shepard, P. D., & Elmer, G. I. (2013). The habenula governs the attribution of incentive salience to reward predictive cues. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 7, 781. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2013.00781.
Dantzer, R., O’Connor, J. C., Freund, G. G., Johnson, R. W., & Kelley, K. W. (2008). From inflammation to sickness and depression: When the immune system subjugates the brain. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 9(1), 46–56. doi:10.1038/nrn2297.
Feighner, J. P., Robins, E., Guze, S. B., Woodruff, R. A., Winokur, G., & Munoz, R. (1972). Diagnostic criteria for use in psychiatric research. Archives of General Psychiatry, 26(1), 57–63.
Hempel, C. (1965). Aspects of scientific explanation and other essays in the philosophy of science. New York: The Free Press.
Kandel, E. R. (Ed.). (2011). Principles of neural science. New York: McGraw-Hill Medical Publishing Division.
Kim, J. (2000). Mind in a physical world: An essay on the mind-body problem and mental causation. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Kim, J. (2006). Emergence: Core ideas and issues. Synthese, 3, 547.
Kitcher, P. (1984). 1953 and all that. A tale of two sciences. The Philosophical Review, 3, 335.
Klimek, V., Schenck, J. E., Han, H., Stockmeier, C. A., & Ordway, G. A. (2002). Dopaminergic abnormalities in amygdaloid nuclei in major depression: A postmortem study. Biological Psychiatry, 52(7), 740–748. doi:10.1016/S0006-3223(02)01383-5.
Kranz, G. S., Kasper, S., & Lanzenberger, R. (2010). Reward and the serotonergic system. Neuroscience, 166(4), 1023–1035. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2010.01.036.
Murphy, D. (2006). Psychiatry in the scientific image. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Nagel, E. (1961). The structure of science: Problems in the logic of scientific explanation. New York: Harcourt, Brace & World.
Naranjo, C. A., Tremblay, L. K., & Busto, U. E. (2001). The role of the brain reward system in depression. Progress in Neuro-Psychopharmacology & Biological Psychiatry, 25(4), 781–823.
Nestler, E. J., & Carlezon, W. A, Jr. (2006). The mesolimbic dopamine reward circuit in depression. Biological Psychiatry, 59(12), 1151–1159. doi:10.1016/j.biopsych.2005.09.018.
NiMH. (n.d.). NIMH Research Domain Criteria (RDoC). http://www.nimh.nih.gov, http://www.nimh.nih.gov/research-priorities/rdoc/nimh-research-domain-criteria-rdoc.shtml.
Nocjar, C., Zhang, J., Feng, P., & Panksepp, J. (2012). The social defeat animal model of depression shows diminished levels of orexin in mesocortical regions of the dopamine system, and of dynorphin and orexin in the hypothalamus. Neuroscience, 218, 138–153. doi:10.1016/j.neuroscience.2012.05.033.
Salamone, J. D. (2007). Functions of mesolimbic dopamine: Changing concepts and shifting paradigms. Psychopharmacology, 191(3), 389. doi:10.1007/s00213-006-0623-9.
Salamone, J. D., Correa, M., Farrar, A., & Mingote, S. M. (2007). Effort-related functions of nucleus accumbens dopamine and associated forebrain circuits. Psychopharmacology, 191(3), 461–482. doi:10.1007/s00213-006-0668-9.
Schaffner, K. F. (2008). Etiological models in psychiatry: Reductive and nonreductive. In K. S. Kendler & J. Parnas (Eds.), Philosophical issues in psychiatry (pp. 48–90). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
Schaffner, K. F. (2016). Behaving: What’s genetic and what’s not, and why should we care?. New York: Oxford University Press.
Schlaepfer, T. E., Cohen, M. X., Frick, C., Kosel, M., Brodesser, D., Axmacher, N., et al. (2008). Deep brain stimulation to reward circuitry alleviates anhedonia in refractory major depression. Neuropsychopharmacology, 33(2), 368–377. doi:10.1038/sj.npp.1301408.
Wimsatt, W. C. (2007). Re-engineering philosophy for limited beings: Piecewise approximations to reality. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Team 4 of Unit 930 (Imagery and the Brain) of the Institut National de la Santé et de la Recherche Médicale (INSERM) welcomed me and integrated my own work into theirs. Thanks in particular to Samuel Leman, Catherine Belzung, Wissam El Hage and Vincent Camus. The University of Tours provided for a sabbatical leave that helped a great deal in writing this paper. The Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh invited me to present a draft at the ‘Mind–Brain Dualism in Psychiatry’ Conference. Serife Tekin and Kathryn Tabb created the friendly environment needed for the ideas presented here to mature. Participants provided benevolent and useful feedback. Ken Schaffner challenged an earlier draft of the paper, which helped improve it. Katie discussed the final written version. This article is dedicated to Peter Machamer, in regret for a second missed opportunity (the third shall be the right one).
About this article
Cite this article
Lemoine, M. On the neurobiological redefinition of psychiatric symptoms: elimination, reduction, or what?. Synthese 196, 2117–2133 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11229-016-1270-2
- Mosaic unity