The Metaphysics of Mental Illness

  • Jeff Coulter


One conceptual dilemma which has had practical repercussions beyond the confines of scholarly debate in philosophy and the human sciences is that surrounding the notion of ‘mental illness’. A polarization of views has taken place, which, in this particular field, has been unproductive, confusing and politically consequential. In the ensuing discussion, I shall try to disentangle some of the contending claims and isolate what I argue to be the defensible positions. In so doing, I shall need to examine the notions of ‘illness’, ‘diagnosis’ and ‘definition’. Hopefully, such elucidation should cast some light upon the intelligibility of psychiatric praxis and its grounding in ordinary reasoning, but will leave open the question of how to resolve some of the better-informed disputes about its transformation as a social institution.


Mental Illness Psychiatric Diagnosis Social Construction Contextual Constitution Scholarly Debate 
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Copyright information

© Jeff Coulter 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeff Coulter
    • 1
  1. 1.Boston UniversityUSA

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