Chapter

Technological rationality in psychiatry: immanent critique, critical theory, and a pragmatist alternative

Peter Zachar and Scott Bartlett

in Philosophical Perspectives on Technology and Psychiatry

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print January 2007 | ISBN: 9780199207428
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754494 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/med/9780199207428.003.0002

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Technological rationality in psychiatry: immanent critique, critical theory, and a pragmatist alternative

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The purpose of this chapter is to acknowledge the importance of a critical analysis of technological and algorithmic approaches to problem solving in psychiatry without rejecting the progressive contributions of technology. We argue that there are negative consequences to relying on technological approaches, but technology is not fundamentally alien to our nature. Among the most articulate and insightful opponents of technological rationality were the members of the Frankfurt school of critical social theory. We claim that the critical theorists offered important insights, but they also adopted an overly hostile attitude toward technological reasoning. A less dystopian alternative is found in the pragmatism of Dewey. We describe the advantages of a reflective use of technology in which ‘ends’ are open to renegotiation as situations evolve, and also propose that many important shortcomings of technological approaches are discovered only by users of technology. Examples from the domains of statistical prediction, psychiatric taxonomy, and evidence-based medicine are explored.

Chapter.  8006 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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