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  • Bielefeld colloquium in philosophy of psychiatry

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Bielefeld Colloquium in Philosophy of Psychiatry

We meet every two to three weeks to discuss classics, recent and our own work in the philosophy of psychiatry. We focus on issues within the philosophy of science as well as conceptual and metaphysical issues. The colloquium is attended by BA students, MA students, Ph.D. students, and faculty members. If you are interested in participating or would like to be kept up-to-date, please contact Fabian Hundertmark.

This semester we meet on Thursdays at 14:00. You may either join us in the X-building (usually) in room A4-113 or via Zoom:
Meeting ID: 694 5822 2719
Passcode: Zachar

What we are currently doing
Book cover: Justin Garson - Madness - A Philosophical Exploration

In the winter term of 2022/2023, we will read Justin Garson's new book, Madness: A Philosophical Exploration (Oxford, 2022). In a careful examination of texts ranging from antiquity to Darwinian medicine, the author contrasts two paradigms. According to the paradigm of madness-as-dysfunction, madness is viewed as disease, dysfunction, and defect. Madness, like all other diseases, occurs when something in the mind or brain is not functioning as it should. Garson contrasts this prevailing view with a paradigm he calls “madness-as-strategy." According to this paradigm, madness is neither a disease nor a defect, but a designed trait.


At the end of the semester, we will have Justin as our guest to talk about his book.

1.9.2022 Fabian Hundertmark Presentation on functions, dysfunctions, and mental disorders
22.9.2022 – in X-A2-103 Sanneke de Haan An Enactive Approach to Psychiatry (2020)
6.10.2022 – in X-A2-103 Vladimir Markovic Paper on personality disorders
13.10.2022 Justin Garson

Madness: A Philosophical Exploration - Introduction, Introductions to Parts I, II and III

27.10.2022 Justin Garson Madness: A Philosophical Exploration, tba
3.11.2022 Lara Keuck Presentation of the project: Translating Validity in Psychiatric Research
10.11.2022 Justin Garson Madness: A Philosophical Exploration, tba
24.11.2022 Justin Garson Madness: A Philosophical Exploration, tba
8.12.2022 Justin Garson Madness: A Philosophical Exploration, tba
12.1.2023 Justin Garson Madness: A Philosophical Exploration, tba
26.1.2023 Justin Garson Madness: A Philosophical Exploration, tba
2.2.2023 Justin Garson Madness: A Philosophical Exploration, tba

Summer term 2022

Buchcover: Anneli Jefferson - Are mental disorders brain disorders?

End of summer term 2022, we read Anneli Jefferson's new book, "Are mental disorders brain disorders?" (2022). She addresses whether mental disorders are brain disorders and what the consequences would be. In the last session, we had Anneli as a guest.

Book cover: Peter Zachar - A metaphysics of psychopathology

At the beginning of the summer term, we read "A metaphysics of psychopathology" by Peter Zachar (2015). In this book, Zachar addresses the question of what it means when mental disorders are called "real", "true", or "objective".

Winter term 2021/2022

Cover: Philosophy of Psychiatry by Jonathan Tsou

In the winter term 2021/2022, we discussed the book "Philosophy of Psychiatry" by Jonathan Tsou. Tsou addresses basic questions of the philosophy of psychiatry, such as whether there are mental illnesses (yes), what mental illnesses are (biological kinds with harmful effects), whether there are natural kinds in psychiatry (yes), whether the DSM allows valid psychiatric classification (no).

Afterward, we discussed the work of Dr. Sanja Dembić (HU Berlin), who argues that individuals have a mental disorder when they are incapable of responding to reasons in their actions, beliefs, and emotions and when this inability is harmful. In the last session, we had Dr. Sanja Dembić as a guest and discussed an unpublished paper with her.

Summer term 2021

In the summer term of 2021, we explored and discussed many different topics in the philosophy of psychiatry. For example, we dealt with definitions of "mental disorder", the biopsychosocial model, psychodelics, personality disorders, consciousness, autonomy and psychoanalysis.

At the end of the semester, we invited JProf. Lena Kästner (Univerisität des Saarlandes) to discuss her paper "Identifying Causes in Psychiatry".

Dr. Fabian Hundertmark

Picture of Fabian Hundertmark (smiling with headphones)
  • Philosophy of psychiatry
  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophy of mind
  • Philosophy of biology

My Project

My project aims to develop a comprehensive answer to the question of what mental disorders are. My project is premised on two ideas. First, I believe that mental disorders are best understood in terms of modal properties (e.g., dispositions, capacities, abilities, or skills). Second, I distinguish three sub-questions that, in my view, have not yet been adequately distinguished. 1. To which ontological category do mental disorders belong? 2. What unites individual tokens of this ontological category into types (psychological kinds)? 3. What makes psychological kinds mental disorders?

This research is carried out as part of the project “Complex Biological Dispositions: A Case Study in the Metaphysics of Biological Practice” (2020-2023) and is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG). It is a subproject in “Inductive Metaphysics” (FOR 2495).

For more information, click here.

David Lambert

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  • Philosophy of psychiatry
  • General philosophy of science
  • Feminist philosophy of science

In October 2021, I started working on my dissertation as a member of the graduate school 2073 on a topic in philosophy of psychiatry. Contemporary philosophy of science predominantly endorses some scientific pluralism as a default position. Research in psychiatry with its practical character serves as an exemplary field with respect to which I aim to give a positive, normative account of which pluralist stance to endorse relative to the objects of interests of research (theories, models, explanations, classifications, ontologies etc.), given its epistemic and non-epistemic aims.

Daniel Montero Espinoza

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  • ​Philosophy of Psychiatry
  • Scientific Realism
  • General Philosophy of Science

I am a member of the graduate school Integrating Ethics and Epistemology of Scientific Research and a doctoral candidate at the Leibniz Universität Hannover. 

In my dissertation, I investigate some of the trade-offs between endorsing methodological pluralism in psychiatric research and achieving coordination between the plurality of methods involved. I am particularly interested in how theoretical constructs used in psychiatric research are picked (and refined) in the light of the several disciplines that inform some of the current frameworks. More generally, I am interested in the prospects and challenges posed by developing different psychiatric taxonomies that serve different practical purposes.

Link to my Graduate School Profile

Vladimir Markovic

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  • Philosophy of Psychiatry
  • General philosophy of science

I am a master's student in Philosophy of Science at Leibniz University Hannover. I find the Philosophy of Psychiatry fascinating and am especially interested in the following topics. What makes mental phenomena pathological? How do mental disorders intersect with other kinds of normativity (morality, rationality, and deviance)? And relatedly, how does psychiatry interrelate with ethics, epistemology/metaphysics, and criminology/law? How should personality disorders be conceptualized, and why do they seem to pose challenges for psychiatry (conceptually, classificatorily, ethically)?   

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