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A Metaphysics of Psychopathology$
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Peter Zachar

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780262027045

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262027045.001.0001

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Introduction: Science Wars, Psychiatry, and the Problem of Realism

Introduction: Science Wars, Psychiatry, and the Problem of Realism

1 (p.1) Introduction: Science Wars, Psychiatry, and the Problem of Realism
A Metaphysics of Psychopathology

Peter Zachar

The MIT Press

In this introduction, Peter Zachar explores the importance of establishing the reality of psychiatric disorders, noting that debates about the reality and unreality of psychiatric disorders are related to the problem of scientific realism. The passions that accompany discussions of realism are exemplified by the Science Wars of the 1990s. One outcome of the Sciences Wars was a less blunt use of metaphysical concepts such as “real” on the part of those participants who were both scientifically and philosophically inclined. It is argued that debates about the reality of psychiatric disorders are at least as passionate, and likely more relevant to people's everyday lives. In this book, metaphysical concepts such as real, true, and objective will be viewed in pragmatist fashion as conceptual tools that have an important role to play in psychiatry, but in adherence to empiricist minimalism, not treated as transcendent, absolute concepts.

Keywords:   Scientific realism, Psychiatric disorders, Science Wars, Metaphysics, Pragmatism, Empiricist minimalism

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