top of page

Mon, 28 Oct


Room 234

Alex Miller Tate (KCL) Why (and how) should Psychiatry go "4E"?

Time & Location

28 Oct 2019, 16:00 – 18:00

Room 234, Senate House, London WC1B, UK


Various authors have made the suggestion that Psychiatry would have a lot to gain by embracing ‘4E’ approaches to cognition and mind (e.g. Drayson 2009; Sprevak 2011; Kyselo 2016). The basic idea is that we would learn a lot about the nature of mental disorders if we were to fully appreciate the ways in which they are determined by disturbances to processes/properties/etc that are external to an individual’s neurology (henceforth ‘external features’).

This proposal seems to me to put the cart before the horse; such an embrace of a 4E framework can only teach us about the nature of mental disorder if (some) mental disorders are in fact embodied, enactive, embedded, or extended. Call a reason to believe this a 4E Motivating Reason. Moreover, a pre-condition of offering this sort of independent reason is answering the following question; exactly how would mental disorders need to be determined by external features to warrant 4E explanations? Call the answer to this question the 4E Explanatory Requirement. My goal in this paper is twofold; articulate both the 4E Explanatory Requirement (4E-ER), and a relatively general strategy for giving arguments for 4E Motivating Reasons (4E-MR).

I argue that horizontal determination of mental disorder by external features (i.e. external features bringing about occurrences of mental disorder) is insufficient to warrant 4E explanations of mental disorder. Instead, I argue that 4E explanations are warranted just in case (some properties of) mental disorders are vertically determined by external features (i.e. just in case external features, at least in part, fix the character of mental disorder). Then I move on to offering a general strategy for arguing for 4E-MRs. I suggest that theorists should aim to challenge proposed reductions of psychological-level theories of mental disorder to neurological-level theories, by demonstrating that the character of the properties, processes, events, capacities, etc, invoked at the psychological-level exhibit vertical dependence on external features.

Share this event

bottom of page