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Mental illness, human function and values

Megone, C. (2000) Mental illness, human function and values. Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology, 7 (1). pp. 45-65. ISSN 1086-3303


The present paper constitutes a development of the position that illness, whether bodily or mental, should be analyzed as an incapacitating failure of bodily or mental capacities, respectively, to realize their functions. The paper undertakes this development by responding to two critics. It addresses first Szasz’s continued claims that (1) physical illness is the paradigm concept of illness and (2) a philosophical analysis of mental illness does not shed any light on the social and legal role of the idea. Then, in reply to Wakefield, the aim is to defend the account as an interpretation of Aristotle and to argue that this Aristotelian view of mental illness is preferable to one that rests on a supposed value free account of human function. More generally the discussion points to the fact that both Wakefield and Szasz rely on a number of metaphysical assumptions about the supposedly empirical nature of medical diagnosis, about the relation between facts and values, and about mind and body (among others), which are open to challenge. In particular the paper indicates an aristotelian approach to the fusion, in the natural world, of so-called facts and values, and the relevance of this fusion to the analysis of the concept of illness. This suggests the debate over distinct conceptions of that concept must both illumine and be illuminated by these deeper metaphysical questions.

Item Type: Article
Copyright, Publisher and Additional Information: © 2002 Johns Hopkins University Press. Reproduced with permission from the copyright holder.
Institution: The University of Leeds
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Humanities (Leeds) > School of Philosophy (Leeds)
The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and History of Science (Leeds) > School of Philosophy (Leeds)
Depositing User: Leeds Philosophy Department
Date Deposited: 05 Nov 2007 15:10
Last Modified: 24 Jun 2014 09:35
Published Version: http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/philosophy_psychiatry...
Status: Published
Publisher: John Hopkins University Press
Refereed: Yes
Related URLs:
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/3351

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