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Inaugurals 2010

Bill Fulford

Date: 16 March 2010

Location: Medical Teaching Centre

Time: 6pm until 7pm, followed by a drinks reception

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Philosophers and Phobosophers – the uses and abuses of philosophy in psychiatry

The 1990s, widely promoted as the “decade of the brain”, also witnessed a dramatic expansion of cross-disciplinary work between philosophy and psychiatry around the world. To many (the “phobosophers” among us), this came as something of a surprise.

However, building on a clinical case history, I will show to the contrary that there are rich two-way connections between philosophy and psychiatry/neuroscience in four main areas:

  • Metaphysics
  • Philosophical scepticism
  • Philosophy of science
  • Philosophical value theory

Theoretical developments in the field have come mainly from philosophers, notably in Oxford. But Warwick University and more recently Warwick Medical School, have been at the forefront of practical and empirical developments, particularly through what has become known as “values-based practice”.

This combination of philosophical theory with practical and empirical developments, contrary to the phobosophers’ view, is a mark not of a primitive science but, as in theoretical physics, of a science at the leading edge.

In the last part of my lecture, I will outline how Warwick Medical School is leading the way in extending values-based alongside evidence-based approaches from psychiatry into other areas of medicine.