Darwin, functional explanation, and the philosophy of psychiatry

Jerome C. Wakefield

in Maladapting Minds

Published on behalf of Oxford University Press

Published in print March 2011 | ISBN: 9780199558667
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191754647 | DOI:

Series: International Perspectives in Philosophy & Psychiatry

Darwin, functional explanation, and the philosophy of psychiatry

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The evolution-based harmful dysfunction analysis (HDA) of mental disorder holds that a disorder is a harmful failure of an evolved function. The HDA has been widely acknowledged to have considerable explanatory power. Nevertheless, the specific relationship between evolved functions and disorders postulated by the HDA remains in conflict with some other evolutionary views of mental disorder. Moreover, the HDA's evolutionary approach clashes with culture-based accounts of the concept of disorder that emphasize cross-cultural variation and social construction of disorder categories. In this chapter, I first summarize the HDA and explain the rationale for its main features. Then, I review a selection of the various objections to the HDA that have appeared in the recent literature, either to the evolutionary emphasis in general or to the HDA's specific construal of the relation between evolution and disorder. I consider the extent to which the HDA can be defended from these objections.

Chapter.  13519 words. 

Subjects: Psychiatry

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