Beyond the Brain Conference

Beyond the Brain Conference

Academic Conference at the University of Edinburgh on Reconceptualizing Mental Disorders

Abstracts: Sam Wilkinson

What Are We Doing When We Call Someone Mentally Ill?

 

There is an on-going debate surrounding different answers to the question “What is mental illness?” I want to retreat from the contested ground about what mental illness might be, to an exploration of what attributing mental illness might do. I argue that calling someone mentally ill expresses (in a sense that I will clarify) certain evaluative attitudes (in a sense that I will clarify). I end by investigating consequences of this view for related issues, including: cultural relativism, the nature of illness more generally, and, returning to the more traditional debate, a potential answer to what mental illness might actually be.

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