The course of Philosophy of Psychiatry is part of the program in Cognitive Sciences of Communication and Action (master level) and is included among the characterizing training activities. The course will introduce some topics that arise when we treat psychiatry as a special science and deal with it using the methods and concepts of philosophy of science. This includes discussion of such issues as the explanation, the reduction and the classification of mental disorders.
Upon completion of the course students
- will have gained familiarity with some of the most important philosophical questions raised by mental disorders and our attempts to understand/treat them;
- will be able to critically evaluate different positions on core themes of the course;
- will develop a critical thought on philosophical matters involving mental disorders, and the ability to build rigorous, clear arguments using an appropriate scientific and philosophical vocabulary.


teacher profile | teaching materials


Since its birth, psychiatry has enjoyed an ambiguous status, which confined it in a scientific and cultural zone of its own, secluded from the landscape of the medical disciplines. Still today psychiatry is characterized by a composite nature, which belongs to both the biological sciences and the human ones, straddling the interpersonal and the intrapersonal, the social and the individual. Its roots can be traced to old moral themes and new scientific problems. This fact has been a source of debate and controversy for over a century—to all appearances, it was a theoretical stalemate. This course aims to evaluate the potential of cognitive neuroscience to help psychiatry to find a way out of this impasse.

Core Documentation

G. Graham, The Disordered Mind. An Introduction to Philosophy of Mind and Mental Illness. Routledge, London 2010.
P. Gerrans, The Measure of Madness: Philosophy of Mind, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Delusional Thought, MIT Press, Cambridge (MA) 2014.

Type of evaluation

Verification of learning takes place through an oral exam. Is it possible to write a 3,000-word final paper (in Italian or English) to be discussed in the exam. Students are required to get their paper topics approved by the instructor.