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Philosophy Program Presents

Monday, April 8, 2019
Psychiatry's Implicit Adaptationism
Olin, Room 102
4:45 pm – 6:15 pm
Kari Theurer
Trinity College
The concept of dysfunction plays a central role in psychiatry, and particularly in analyses of psychiatric disorder. Psychiatric disorders are defined in the DSM-5, in part, as syndromes characterized by clinically significant symptoms that reflect “a dysfunction in the psychological, biological, or developmental processes underlying mental functioning.” Curiously absent from psychiatric manuals is an account of what constitutes function and dysfunction. I investigate whether philosophical accounts of function and dysfunction can do the work that psychiatry implicitly demands. I argue that one popular account cannot, and that it imports into psychiatry a problematic strain of adaptationism, which falls well short of the requisite standards of evidence in evolutionary biology.

For more information, call 845-758-7280, or e-mail

Time: 4:45 pm – 6:15 pm

Location: Olin, Room 102