Sam Fellowes has been awarded a Research Fellowship by the Wellcome Trust. Sam will be based in the department of Politics, Philosophy and Religion at Lancaster throughout his three year project.
Sam’s project aims to develop a neo-Kantian framework for psychiatry: Empirical research has not been able to find specific causes for many mental disorders. Instead massive causal heterogeneity has been uncovered within the domain of psychiatry. This has led to a crisis of confidence concerning psychiatric diagnoses. Sam will develop a new account of what makes a psychiatric diagnosis legitimate, which draws on an approach in the philosophy of science called ‘neo-Kantianism’. This approach emphasises the role played by theories and values when scientists model the world. On this new approach a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis does not need to have a specific underlying cause, and so current concerns regarding the validity of psychiatric diagnoses can be alleviated. Sam will use the history of autism to look at alternative theories and values to assess if psychiatry could improve the theories and values it employs.