Minds, Models and Mechanisms:
Current Trends in Philosophy of Psychiatry

April 20th  22nd 2021, fully online

The philosophy of psychiatry has a long-standing tradition and many facets. In recent years, psychiatry as a scientific discipline has experienced several turns towards neurophysiology, genetics, and multi-level biological explanations. According to the current state-of-the art, understanding mental disorders requires looking at a variety of different factors contributing to the development and persistence of, as well as the recovery from, mental disorders. To this end, psychiatrists study the influences of, e.g., behavioral, psychological, neurophysiological, genetic, pharmacological, and environmental factors on psychopathology.

To do justice to the multi-factorial nature of psychopathology, a range of new approaches has recently been proposed. These include mechanisms, artificial or deep neural networks, computational models, multiplexes or multi-layered network models, predictive processing, functional brain networks, and symptom network models among others. Although these accounts exhibit promising features for a modern approach to psychiatry, they leave important questions unanswered. For instance, to what extent is plurality an ineliminable feature of psychiatry? What explanatory approaches may promote epistemically valuable integration? And what does such integration imply for our understanding of the relation between mind and brain more generally? What exactly are the commitments, strengths and limitations of each of the different approaches currently offered? And which should we favor—if any single one—to better diagnose, explain, and treat mental disorders in future?

In our workshop, we aim to address these questions. To do so, we bring together experts from clinical psychiatry, neuroscience, computational modelling, philosophy of mind and cognition, and philosophy of science. Joining forces, researchers from these disciplines shall clarify the theoretical and conceptual foundations of contemporary psychopathology models as well as the practical limitations arising within clinical practice and computational modelling.

Organizers: Lena Kästner, Roberta Cubisino