IAS Fellow’s Public Lecture – Pathology or Difference? On the ground rules for defining mental illness
Professor Tim Thornton (University of Central Lancashire)
25th November 2014, 8-9pm
Senate Suite, University College (Castle)

Unlike other areas of medicine, the basic diagnostic categories of mental healthcare are widely disputed. Revisions to psychiatric taxonomy are not merely matters of narrowly medical scientific judgement. In an attempt to show how and where pathology emerges from difference, competing accounts draw on wider views ranging from the proper functions of cognition and emotion to explicitly normative and value-laden accounts of human flourishing. The debate, however, is generally assumed to aim at truths about the nature of mental illness. In this presentation, Professor Tim Thornton will argue that such an assumption about the ground rules of debate is optional. For some views of the nature of mental illness it is more natural to think of the debate as answering to a norm other than truth. Such implicit disagreement about the ground rules of debate helps explain why there is little prospect of agreement about the definition of mental illness.


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