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Call for Abstracts, AAPP 28th Annual Meeting, May 14-15, 2016 Atlanta, GA

Association for the Advancement of Philosophy and Psychiatry

28th ANNUAL MEETING May 14-15, 2016 Atlanta, GA

PHILOSOPHICAL ISSUES IN SCIENTIFIC PSYCHIATRY:
RDOC, DSM, MECHANISMS, AND MORE

Conference co-chairs: Şerife Tekin & Peter Zachar

Keynote speakers:

Scott O. Lilienfeld, Ph.D. Emory University

Uma Vaidyanathan, Ph.D. National Institute of Mental Health, RDoC Unit

The science of psychiatry advances by means of empirical research. Scientific cultures, however, rely upon on non-empirical commitments such as methodological preferences, criteria for good constructs, and decisions about how to allocate limited resources to a superfluity of scientific goals. For instance shortly before the publication of the DSM-5 ̧the National Institute of Mental Health announced the goal of ultimately replacing the DSM as a guide for scientific research in psychiatry. Their preferred alternative is called the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC), a classification matrix of basic psychological capacities that lend themselves for explanation by relevant biological mechanisms. In some respects RDoC is as much a philosophical revolution as a scientific one.

Accompanying this transition is the burgeoning body of first person accounts of patients, narrating the experience of mental disorder and psychiatric treatment, adding to the sources of knowledge in psychiatry.

Both these transitions in the psychiatric landscape create further impetus to revisit important topics pertaining to scientific research in psychopathology, not only among psychiatrists and psychologists, but also among philosophers and historians of science who specialize in thinking about the nature of scientific research and progress.

Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the RDoC framework for psychiatric research ?
How could recent philosophical work on mechanisms contribute to RDoC’s promise to develop a causal understanding of psychopathology?
Should latent variables be considered causes of behavior?
To what does construct validity refer in a psychiatric context?
Categories of mental disorder may not carve nature at the joints. Do competing dimensional models?
Can research in the history and theory of psychopathology contribute to the progress of scientific psychiatry? How can the work on values in feminist philosophy of science address the various tensions that exist between scientist versus practitioner perspectives?
What are the implications of the differences between folk psychological and scientific psychological concepts on scientific research on mental disorders?
Can patients’ experiences with mental illness contribute to scientific progress, or are they incommensurable?

Presentations will be strictly limited to 20 minutes, followed by 10 minutes for discussion.

Abstracts will be blind reviewed, so the author’s identifying information should be attached separately.

Abstracts should be 500-600 words and sent via email by November 15, 2015 to Şerife Tekin (stekin@daemen.edu) and Peter Zachar (pzachar@aum.edu). Notices of acceptance or rejection will be distributed in January.

Desiderata for a successful early career philosophy conference: Suggestions from a graduate student

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A guest post by Valentina Petrolini, PhD Candidate, Department of Philosophy, University of Cincinnati

Conferences can be overly stressful for early career members of the profession. Besides the dreadful experiences of talking in front of an audience and the struggle of surviving the Q&A session without too much damage, we often feel the pressure of “networking” and “getting our ideas known” to other people in our field. Unfortunately, many conferences are also quite useless in this respect: formal opportunities to interact with senior scholars are very limited, and graduate students easily end up hanging out with each other during the informal events.

Last November I attended a conference that was an interesting exception to this rule. The Early Career Scholars Conference in Philosophy of Psychiatry at the Center for Philosophy of Science (Pittsburgh) was organized by Şerife Tekin (Daemen College) and Kathryn Tabb (University of Pittsburgh) with two main goals in mind. The first was to tackle a current issue within psychiatry – i.e. overcoming mind-brain dualism – to sparkle the interest of philosophers and psychiatrists alike, thereby promoting interdisciplinarity and cross-fertilization between the two disciplines. The second goal was to facilitate the interaction between early career researchers and senior members of the profession, creating opportunities to discuss each other’s ideas and works-in-progress. I must say that both goals were brilliantly achieved.

As an early career philosopher of psychiatry, I found three aspects of this conference particularly impressive. First, I was surprised to see that several psychiatrists attended the event and engaged in thoughtful interactions with the speakers and poster presenters. It was interesting to see that medical practitioners were both attentive and responsive to philosophical developments concerning their discipline, since – qua philosophers – we often struggle to understand the practical implications of our research. This experience made me more confident about the possibility of building fruitful relationships with people working in psychiatry and strengthened the idea that we are interested in similar questions after all. What kinds of things are psychiatric disorders? What are the causes involved in the onset of mental illness? What are the methods with which we can successfully intervene to improve the health of psychiatric patients? How can we make sense of the patients’ experience when this involves some sort of “reality distortion”?

Second, the conference format facilitated a number of formal and informal interactions between early career scholars and more experienced researchers in philosophy and psychiatry. The event was set up in a way that allowed junior philosophers to present their work effectively through talks and posters, and senior scholars to provide feedback as formal commentators or simply as members of the audience. The (relatively) small number of participants contributed to create a friendly and collaborative environment, making the discussion very focused and at the same time accessible to everyone. I believe the poster session was particularly successful in this respect: over lunch break, most participants took the time to browse through the posters and discuss their content with the presenters. This is (unfortunately) still quite unusual for philosophy conferences, where posters are often relegated to the hallway or scheduled for super-inconvenient times of the day. Hanging posters in the same room where the talks took place and offering a dedicated time to them was definitely the right move to ensure that they got appropriate attention.

Third, I was impressed to see how many different approaches and philosophical paradigms were represented in the contributions. Although papers and posters were carefully selected based on their accordance with the general theme – as Rob Wilson pointed out in his plenary remarks – there was a huge variety in terms of perspectives, methodologies and philosophical affiliations. Again, it is definitely not easy to find a conference where canonical issues in philosophy of science happily go hand in hand with phenomenological reflections and methodological, ethical or historical analyses. However, this is exactly what happened in Pittsburgh: the contributions dealing with reductionism (Goyer & Faucher; Lemoine), dualism (Hine; Hochstein; Kotsko; Ross) and pluralism (Friesen; Petrolini; Tabb) were seamlessly interpolated with the ones focusing on the history and social locatedness of psychiatry (Radden; Tekin) and with others discussing phenomenological (Fernandez; Jeuk), methodological (Buckwalter; Krgovic; Ozel; Repnikov; Robins; Winzeler) and ethical issues (Sadler; Washington).

A few months later, what lesson can we draw from this event? More specifically, what are the desiderata for a successful early career philosophy conference? Here are my suggestions.

  • Make sure that the work of early career scholars gets the right attention. This means creating various opportunities – e.g. talks, poster sessions – where junior philosophers have the chance to present their work and discuss their ideas thoroughly with the audience.
  • Create formal opportunities for interaction between early career philosophers and senior members of the profession. This can happen in a variety of ways: assigning commentators to individual papers worked well in this case, but other formats are worth exploring as well (e.g. mentoring workshops, career development panels).
  • If you decide to have a poster session, emphasize its importance by offering a dedicated time and space in the conference schedule. In particular, make the extra-effort to encourage all the participants to interact with the poster presenters and give them feedback.
  • If the topic of the conference is interdisciplinary in nature, make sure that all the contributions are refereed both by a philosopher and an expert of the other discipline (e.g. a biologist for philosophy of biology conferences). This helps to ensure that the papers are dealing with issues that are theoretically interesting and also up-to-speed on the relevant empirical evidence.
  • Make sure that diverse paradigms and perspectives within philosophy are represented in the contributions. This helps to go beyond traditional (and often artificial) boundaries – e.g. analytic versus continental – and to focus on common problems and innovative solutions.

More on the Early Career Scholars Conference in Philosophy of Psychiatry can be found:

here (Şerife Tekin and Kathryn Tabb‘s summary),

here (Center for Philosophy of Science’s photo album,

and here (John Norton’s comments).

***Word Cloud generated from the abstracts of the Early Career Scholars Conference in Philosophy of Psychiatry (Pittsburgh, November 2014)

Valentina Petrolini is a doctoral candidate at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Cincinnati. Her work is mainly in Philosophy of Psychiatry, but her broader interests lie at the intersection between Philosophy of Mind and Epistemology.

New philosophy/psychiatry videos on psagacity.org

Last week’s  AAPP annual meeting brought two new additions to the PSAGACITY online video site.  The first was Professor John Russon’s lecture on phenomenological understanding of agency and the structure of intersubjectivity.  Professor Russon is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Guelph.  This posting is the first for the annual Edwin R. Wallace Lecture in Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis; we hope to post more of these in the coming years.

Dr. Jennifer Hansen’s interview was also recorded and posted recently.  Dr. Hansen is Professor of Philosophy and Associate Dean at Saint Lawrence University.  Her video, one of many constituting the Philosophy of Psychiatry Oral History series on Psagacity, discusses her development as a young philosopher before discussing in some detail her ideas on women and depression, gender and psychopharmacology, and pragmatism and hope.  She speaks in a very engaging and personal style; I’ve already encouraged several of our trainees to check out this video.

 You can view all at www.psagacity.org  .

 — John Z Sadler MD

Forthcoming Issue of Public Affairs Quarterly on the DSM-5 (Guest post by Daniel Moseley)

The publication of the fifth edition of The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) was met with considerable controversy. The current edition of Public Affairs Quarterly (Volume 29, Number 1, January 2015 issue) examines the moral and political implications of the DSM-5.

This special issue of the journal brings expertise from various fields within and outside of philosophy. It contains articles by Devin Singh and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Jerome Wakefield, Dominic Sisti and Rebecca Johnson, Şerife Tekin and Melissa Mosko, and an introduction to the special issue by Daniel Moseley. These articles break new ground for future research on the normative dimensions of the DSM-5. The contents of the issue are as follows:

Guest Editor’s Introduction: The Moral and Political Implications of the DSM-5  (Daniel D. Moseley)

The DSM-5 Definition of Mental Disorder (Devin Singh and Walter Sinnott-Armstrong)

Psychological Justice: DSM-5, False Positive Diagnosis, and Fair Equality of Opportunity (Jerome C. Wakefield)

Revision and Representation: The Controversial Case of DSM-5 (Dominic Sisti and Rebecca Johnson)

Hyponarrativity and Context-Specific Limitations of the DSM-5 (Şerife Tekin and Melissa Mosko)

The articles are available online at the following webpage:

http://paq.press.illinois.edu/29/1/index.html

2015 Annual AAPP Conference (Guest post by Jennifer Hansen)

Please consider submitting your abstract to the 27th annual AAPP meeting in Toronto this May.  This year Robyn Bluhm and I (Jennifer Hansen) chose to break with tradition and hold an “open theme” conference, hoping to elicit abstracts from newer scholars to the field of philosophy of psychiatry so that we might discover what new, exciting lines of thought are out there.  The AAPP conference is an ideal setting for scholars seeking constructive feedback on their work because sessions are small enough to enable good discussion.  Presenters will also be able to network and get valuable support from with a variety of scholars writing in the philosophy of psychiatry field; I can attest to how much my own scholarship has benefitted from being involved with AAPP.  The deadline is fast approaching—Wednesday, October 15th.  We are eager to read your proposals.

Jennifer Hansen

Official CFA with instructions for submission is here.

  Early Career Scholars Conference in Philosophy of Psychiatry: Overcoming Mind-Brain Dualism in the 21st Century

We are delighted to announce the (first) Early Career Scholars Conference in Philosophy of Psychiatry: Overcoming Mind-Brain Dualism in the 21st Century Medicine, to take place at the Center for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, on November 21-22, 2014. The conference program can be found here. If you would like to register for this free event, please contact Joyce McDonald (pittcntr@pitt.edu).

If you have questions or queries please contact us, Serife Tekin and Kathryn Tabb.

In this post, we would like to provide some information about the conference. We thank our co-organizers, William Bechtel, Trey Boone, Mazviita Chirimuuta, Peter Machamer, Edouard Machery, Kenneth Schaffner, as well as our co-sponsors, the Center for Philosophy of Science, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, and the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Daemen College, Buffalo, NY. We also thank the Center staff, Joyce McDonald, Karen Kovalchick, and Cheryl Greer for their tremendous help with the logistics of the conference.

What is the conference about?

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