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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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Four Conceptual Abstractions: Natural Kind, Historical Concept, Normative Concept, and Practical Kind

Four Conceptual Abstractions: Natural Kind, Historical Concept, Normative Concept, and Practical Kind

Chapter:
9 (p.137) Four Conceptual Abstractions: Natural Kind, Historical Concept, Normative Concept, and Practical Kind
Source:
A Metaphysics of Psychopathology
Author(s):

Peter Zachar

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262027045.003.0009

The pragmatist's tendency to construe concepts as tools that we use for certain purposes is applied to the contrast between natural kind and social construct. Both of these concepts offer informative ways of thinking about psychiatric disorders, but they are more useful when made less obscure by being decomposed into components. The decomposition of the natural kind concept results in five overlapping features. The most obscure of these features is naturalness. The most useful of these features are supporting induction and being subject to causal explanation. The concept of social construct can be decomposed into historical concept, normative concept, and practical kind. The chapter concludes by introducing a visual figure in the form of a tetrahedron, the purpose of which is to place these concepts in dynamic relationships with each other in order to emphasize that they each can contribute to a better understanding of psychiatric disorders.

Keywords:   natural kind, social construct, practical kind, normative, historicist, causality, pragmatism

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