This course begins on April 21st, 4.15 PM in room GA 03/46.

The primary focus of the seminar regards the definition of a condition as disease and legitimacy of treatment, specifically in the field of psychiatry. The choice of emphasizing the importance of values derives from the preference of the normativist, over the naturalist model in medicine. According to the latter, disease is defined as a departure from a condition of normality.
This view is defective, because departure from normality can be virtuous, like, for example, in the case of a person of abnormally high intelligence. The proper definition of disease is, thus, related to evaluative standards that indicate components of human life that are valuable and desirable. Relying on values and norms, however, has opened the possibility of abuse in the history of medicine, and, in particular, in psychiatry. A famous historical illustration is represented by homosexuality, once wrongly medicalized. Actual disputes regard, for example, autism. The neurodiversity movement contests the definition of, at least, some conditions in the autistic spectrum like disease, and, instead, proposes to consider
them as mere evolutionistic variations.
Injustice can be present both in the case of wrongful medicalization, as well as in the case of the omission of medicalization, when it is legitimate. The seminar will analyse the possibility to establish a model of justification of evaluative standards employed in the definition of diseases and employment of treatments that
respects the equality and freedom of all persons, and reasonableness of responses, at the same time. The ground for the discussion is represented by the identification of capabilities (possibilities of doings and beings) that are constitutive of a human life that is going well (Martha Nussbaum).
The main problem is how to justify the identification of such capabilities. The main options are represented by a dilemma between impersonal philosophical reasoning developed by theoreticians, on one side, or procedural and democratic deliberation on the other side. The risk of favouring the theoreticians’ views is represented by possible mistakes and injustice toward medicalized persons, like it has already happened in the history of psychiatry. The risk of the democratization of the procedure is represented by possible conclusions based on poor knowledge, or absence of competence. The model finally favoured is represented by a procedure pursued by theoreticians, that are, however, careful to take in consideration the perspectives and the reasons important for all persons concerned. This model is strongly inspired by the theory of public reason employed in political philosophy by John Rawls and Gerald Gaus.
Semester: WT 2023/24