Thursday, 20 March 2014

Mental Illness: Philosophy, Ethics and Society

Matthew Broome and Lisa Bortolotti
On 17 March 2014 Kengo Miyazono organised a public engagement event as part of the Arts and Science Festival at the University of Birmingham on 17 March 2014. The main theme of the event was a reflection on the importance of psychiatric diagnosis in establishing whether someone is responsible for committing a crime.

The event consisted of several activities, a talk by Matthew Broome (Psychiatry, Oxford) on a case study he had written about, featuring a man with schizophrenia committing a crime; a brief commentary by Lisa Bortolotti (Philosophy, Birmingham) explaining how the considerations made about the case study could enlighten the debate on the recent Breivik case in Norway; a questions and answers session with the audience; and a discussion session for which the audience split in two groups. Doctoral students Sarah-Louise Johnson, Rachel Gunn and Ben Costello also contributed to the discussion. Additional activities are planned this week on the event website, Mental Illness: Philosophy, Ethics and Society.

Some of the issues that were raised are also routinely discussed on this blog, such as the nature of delusions, the difficulty in deriving information about an agent's role in a series of events based on a psychiatric diagnosis alone, and the different language and concepts used by philosophers, psychiatrists and mental health lawyers which may impair effective communication and progress with our understanding of the relationship among mental illness, moral responsibility for action and legal accountability.

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