Is psychiatric research scientific?

Rachel Cooper

in Psychiatry as Cognitive Neuroscience

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print May 2009 | ISBN: 9780199238033
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754562 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Is psychiatric research scientific?

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It is generally assumed that asking whether psychiatric research can be scientific is a reasonable question to ask and that the answer matters. In this chapter I contest both these claims.

I start by arguing that the search for a ‘demarcation criterion’ that would distinguish science from non-science has failed. I then defend the claim that ‘science’ is best considered a family resemblance term. This suggests that whether psychiatric research is scientific may be a fuzzy matter, and that psychiatric science might be like the more paradigmatic sciences in some respects but unlike them in others. As psychiatric research tackles diverse problems in diverse ways, assessing whether it is empirically and conceptually sound will be a piecemeal and difficult task.

Chapter.  6992 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry ; Clinical Neuroscience

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