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  • Bielefeld Colloquium in Philosophy of Psychiatry


    Escher-esque picture
    picture by IlNat (lincenced under Creative Commons)

Philosophy of Psychiatry in Bielefeld


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

Colourful brain-like structure

Since we are now well connected to the philosophy of psychiatry community and many of us have our own research projects in this area, we will discuss much work-in-progress by guests and members of the colloquium during the summer term of 2024. However, if there is great interest, we will also discuss published papers or book chapters.

20.06.2024 14 - 16 (CET) Sam Wren-Lewis und Anna Alexandrova (only text)

Mental Health Without Well-being

04.07.2024 14 - 16 (CET) Jonas Hartmann (in person)

Psychiatric internalism & externalism

18.07.2024 14 - 16 (CET) Miriam Niemöller (in person) Engineering the Concept of Neurodivergence
01.08.2024 14 - 16 (CET) tba  
29.08.2024 14 - 16 (CET) tba  
12.09.2024 14 - 16 (CET) Hannah Altehenger (in person) tba
26.09.2024 14 - 16 (CET) Sander Werkhoven (in person) tba

Bielefeld Workshop on Philosophy of Psychiatry 2024

Poster (informations identical to description, the poster portrays a woman in collage-style)

Date: May 28 - 29, 2024
Location: Bielefeld University, Germany (Main Building V2-105/115) and online via Zoom

The Bielefeld Workshop on Philosophy of Psychiatry 2024 aims to delve into the philosophical underpinnings of psychiatric theory and (research) practice, exploring a plurality of perspectives and debates within the field.

This workshop offers a platform for philosophers of all backgrounds and career stages to come together, exchange ideas, and foster discussions. It is an opportunity to connect and bring together the growing community of philosophers of psychiatry, including master students.
To register, please send an email to by the 24th of May.


  • Florence Adams (Cambridge)
  • Sanja Dembić (Berlin)
  • Cornelia Elke (Bielefeld)
  • Sascha Fink (Erlangen)
  • Anna Hagemann (Bielefeld)
  • Jonas Hartmann (Bielefeld)
  • Fabian Hundertmark (Bielefeld)
  • David Lambert (Bielefeld)
  • Roberta Locatelli (Tübingen)
  • Lara Keuck (Bielefeld)
  • Vladimir Markovic (Hanover)
  • Daniel Montero (Hanover)
  • Caroline Stankozi (Bochum)
  • James Turner (Sheffield)


  • Jonas Dauster (Bielefeld)
  • Dennis Dübeler (Bielefeld)
  • Lena Schubert (Bielefeld)

This event is funded by the DFG Research Training Group 2073, the German Society for Analytic Philosophy (GAP), and the German Society for Philosophy of Science (GWP).

The preliminary program can be found here and a poster here.

Winter term 2023/2024

26.10.2023 14 - 16 (CET) Awais Aftab (in person)

The Rise and Fall of Kraepelinian Psychiatry

9.11.2023 14 - 16 (CET) Roberta Locatelli (in person) A disjunctive account of mental disorder
23.11.2023 14 - 16 (CET) Drew Johnson (in person)

A Framework for Assessing the Status of ADHD as a Disorder of Attention

14.12.2023 14 - 16 (CET) David Lambert (in person) Report from an internship in a psychiatric clinic
17.1.2024 12 - 14 (CET) Jacob Stegenga (in person) (different date) ‘The drug worked for me’… But Did It?
1.2.2024 14 - 16 (CET) Fabian Hundertmark and James Turner (in person) Ahistorical malfunctions do not exist
15.2.2024 14 - 16 (CET) James Turner and Fabian Hundertmark (in person) Trial talks for "Function and Dysfunction in Medicine and Psychiatry"
29.2.2024  14 - 16 (CET) Elly Vintiadis (in person) Mental disorders as processes: A more suited metaphysics for psychiatry

14.3.2024  14 - 16 (CET)

Karen Neander (only texts)

The Concept of Mental Illness

Functional Analysis and Species Design

18.4.2024  14 - 16 (CET) Tad Zawidzki (in person) Skilled Metacognitive Self-Regulation toward Interpretive Norms: A Non-Relativist Basis for the Social Constitution of Mental Health and Illness (under review)
25.4.2024  14 - 16 (CET)  Marko Jurjako (in person) Mental Dysfunction, Brain Dysfunction, and the Role of the Personal/Subpersonal

Summer term 2023

Poster - Mental Disorders and Modal Properties

The first four sessions of the summer term were used to prepare the workshop Mental Disorders and Modal Properties, which took take place on the 12th and 13th of June at the HU Berlin. This preparation took place with members and fellows of the Human Abilities Research Center as well as participants of the workshop.

Abstract of the workshop: There is an emerging trend to think about mental disorders in terms of modal properties, such as dispositions, capacities, abilities, or skills. Sanja Dembić (2021) and John T. Maier (2021), for example, understand "addictive disorder" as a specific kind of disability or inability. Dembić (2023; ms), Tad Zawidzki and Garson Leder (2023) argue that mental health and disorder, more generally, should be understood in terms of skills or abilities. Johnathan Fuller (ms, chapter 3) argues that mental disorders generally are dispositions. While all of these approaches have some crucial commonalities, a unified picture of specific mental disorders and mental disorders, in general, remains to be found. The goal of this workshop is to bring together scholars working within these approaches to share ideas, find common ground, and discuss remaining controversies.

6.4.2023 2 - 4 pm (CET) Barbara Vetter and Romy Jaster (paper only)

Dispositional accounts of abilities

27.4.2023 2 - 4 pm (CET) Sophie Kikkert (in person) (Dis)ability, Normality, and Intrinsicness
11.5.2023 2 - 4 pm (CET) Fabian Hundertmark and Marlene van den Bos (in person) Functions and Dysfunctions: A Selected Disposition Approach
25.5.2023 2 - 4 pm (CET) Pablo Hubacher Haerle (in person) Intention, Modality and Human Kind

After the workshop, we discussed published papers, but also the work-in-progress of guests and members of the colloquium:

14.6.2023 (Wednesday) 4 - 6 (CET) Sascha Fink (in person) a paper on Psychedelics in Psychotheraphy
29.6.2023 2 - 4 (CET)

Sam Fellowes (paper only)

How autism shows that symptoms, like psychiatric diagnoses, are 'constructed': methodological and epistemic consequences

13.7.2023 2 - 4 (CET) Robert Chapman (paper only) The reality of autism: On the metaphysics of disorder and diversity
27.7.2023 2 - 4 (CET) Cristina Amoretti (in person) and Awais Aftab (paper only) Comments on Anneli Jefferson's book "Are mental disorders brain disorders?"
17.8.2023 2 - 4 (CET) Daniel Montero Espinoza (in person) The Heterogeneity of Symptom Measurement in Psychiatry
15.9.2023 (Friday) 12 - 2 (CET)

James Turner and Fabian Hundertmark (in person)

Swampman goes to the doctor

28.9.2023 2 - 4 (CET) Vladimir Markovic (in person) Morality and mental disorders intertwined: distinguishing between pathological and non-pathological malevolence

Winter term 2022/2023

Book cover: Justin Garson - Madness - A Philosophical Exploration

In the winter term of 2022/2023, we 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 had Justin as a guest.

Furthermore, we invited Hariett Fagerberg to talk with us about disorders as domino dysfunctions.

1.9.2022 Fabian Hundertmark (talk) Presentation on functions, dysfunctions, and mental disorders
22.9.2022 – in X-A2-103 Sanneke de Haan (paper only) An Enactive Approach to Psychiatry (2020)
6.10.2022 – in X-A2-103 Raffaella Campaner (paper only) Explanatory Pluralism in Psychiatry: What are we pluralists about, and why? (2014)
13.10.2022 Justin Garson (chapter only)

Madness: A Philosophical Exploration (2022) - Introduction, Introductions to Parts I, II, and III

27.10.2022 Lara Keuck (talk) Presentation of the project: Translating Validity in Psychiatric Research
10.11.2022 Justin Garson (chapter only) Madness: A Philosophical Exploration, Part I
24.11.2022 Justin Garson (chapter only) Madness: A Philosophical Exploration, chapters 11 and 12
15.12.2022 James Turner (in person) Paper: What is low mood all about?
12.1.2023 Justin Garson (chapter only)

Madness: A Philosophical Exploration, chapters 14 and 15

26.1.2023 Harriet Fagerberg (paper only) Draft paper on the methodology of the disease debate
2.2.2023 Harriet Fagerberg (talk) Presentation on somatic disorders as dysfunctions


Fabian Hundertmark (in person) Partial Realization and Normality: Interpreting Jefferson's Account of Brain Dysfunctions
16.3.2023 Justin Garson & Jerome Wakefield (paper only)

The Developmental Plasticity Challenge to Wakefield's View & Reply by Wakefield

30.3.2023 Justin Garson (in person) Discussion with Justin on his book

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".

Fabian Hundertmark

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

My Project

I investigate the question of what mental disorders are. My goal is to establish a comprehensive theory that answers both the question of the basic ontological category, the question of the individuation of individual types of disorders, and the question of the specific properties of mental disorders. I assume that mental disorders are dispositions to think, feel, or act. Types of mental disorders are individuated by their manifestations, causes, causal basis, or combinations of these factors, and the types so individuated are mental disorders (e.g., as opposed to personality types, cognitive abilities, or intellectual virtues) because they are harmful, irrational deviations from statistical norms.

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

Picture of David, grinning in a green jacket in front of a concrete wall
  • 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

Picture of Daniel standing in front of a small wall and trees with a leather jacket
  • ​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

Picture of Vladimir Markovic in yellow t-shirt, black jacket in front of a painted canvas
  • 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)?   

James Turner

Picture of James (smiling in front of a wall)
  • Philosophy of Psychiatry
  • Philosophy of Cognitive Science
  • Philosophy of Biology

I have recently completed my Ph.D. at the University of Sheffield, UK, titled “Low Mood: Evolution, Cognition, and Disorder,” and funded by the White Rose College of Arts and Humanities. As the title suggests, I am interested in a) why natural selection has resulted in humans and other animals having the capacity for low mood, b) how low mood affects cognition—specifically, if it does so in virtue of having intentional content, and c) at what point low mood becomes dysfunctional/disordered (i.e., at what point it becomes a pathological condition like depression).

Roberta Locatelli

Picture of Roberta (smiling in front of a wall)
  • Philosophy of the mind
  • Philosophy of psychiatry
  • Philosophy of neuroscience
  • Metaphysics
  • Epistemology

I am an affiliated researcher at the University of Tübingen. My research sits at the intersection of the philosophy of mind, philosophy of psychiatry, psychology and neuroscience, metaphysics, and epistemology. 
Most recently, I have been working on developing a concept of ADHD that bridges the gap between the neurodiversity model and the medical disorder model, as well as a disjunctive concept of mental disorder that supports such an account. I also work as an ADHD and executive function coach.


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