Medicine And Books

Mind, Meaning and Mental Disorder: The Nature of Causal Explanation in Psychology and Psychiatry

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: (Published 16 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1271
  1. Sean Spence

    Derek Bolton, Jonathan Hill Oxford University Press, £45, pp 386 ISBN 0 19 261504 1

    A man lifts his arm. One simple action may have many “causes.” Is he directing traffic or defending himself? Is he having a fit or is he dyskinetic? Our explanation will have philosophical implications. The more involuntary we regard the action as being, the more mechanistic will be our cause; the more voluntary the action appears, the more likely will we be to invoke intentions and purposes (and responsibility) in the subject. But how do we know which is the more relevant and how do we deal with blurred distinctions? Is the catatonic man who holds his arms in crucified pose acting intentionally or mechanistically? Is he acting …

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