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The concept of disorder revisited: how to do conceptual analysis when concepts change.

22 January 2020, 4:00 pm–7:00 pm

Rachel Cooper

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Room 110
45: Roberts Building
Torrington Place
United Kingdom

A major research programme in the philosophy of medicine has sought to use conceptual analysis to provide an account of ‘disorder’, ‘disease’, or ‘the pathological’. The aim has been to figure out what makes us think of a condition as a disorder, as opposed to some non-disorder state, such as a normal variation or a moral failing. In this paper, I argue that this research programme runs into difficulties because it has been insufficiently sensitive to the fact that our concepts change over time. This problematises projects of traditional conceptual analysis concerning ‘disorder’. Conceptual change means that a criterion that was necessary for a condition to be considered a disorder at one point in time may cease to be necessary a relatively short period of time later. I consider how philosophers can proceed in such circumstances.

About the Speaker

Rachel Cooper