Philosophy and Psychiatry: Problems, Intersections and New Perspectives

Warren Kinghorn, contributor
Published Year: 
 Philosophy and Psychiatry: Problems, Intersections and New Perspectives

Warren Kinghorn, M.D., Th.D., associate research professor of psychiatry and pastoral and moral theology at Duke Divinity School, was among four Duke University scholars who contributed to a volume of original essays featuring new avenues of inquiry at the intersection of philosophy and psychiatry.

The volume, Philosophy and Psychiatry: Problems, Intersections and New Perspectives, was published by Routledge earlier this year and co-edited by Daniel D. Moseley and Gary Gala.

Contributors were drawn from a variety of fields including evolutionary psychiatry, phenomenology, biopsychosocial models, psychoanalysis, neuroscience, neuroethics, behavioral economics, and virtue theory. In addition to Kinghorn, contributors from Duke faculty were: Jennifer Hawkins, associate research professor in the Department of Philosophy and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine; Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Chauncey Stillman Professor of Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke; and Jesse Summers, lecturing fellow in the Thompson Writing Program in the Department of Philosophy.

The book consists of two parts: in the first, philosophers write five lead essays with replies from psychiatrists. In the second part, this arrangement is reversed. The result is an interdisciplinary exchange that allows for direct discourse and a volume at the forefront of defining an emerging discipline.

In his chapter, Kinghorn uses the thought of philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre to engage and critique the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the standard psychiatric diagnostic classification. Kinghorn argues that the DSM is neither a scientific document that "carves nature at its joints," nor simply social construction, but rather a system that is "tradition-constituted," a product both of science and of politics. 

Kinghorn, co-director of the Theology, Medicine, and Culture initiative at the Divinity School, is a psychiatrist whose work centers on the role of religious communities in caring for persons with mental health problems and on ways in which Christians engage practices of modern health care. Jointly appointed within the Divinity School and the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of Duke University Medical Center, he is a staff psychiatrist and clinical teacher at the Durham VA Medical Center.