Conference: 3rd AISB Symposium on Re-conceptualizing Mental “Illness”

From Mental “Illness” to Disorder and Diversity: New Directions in the Philosophical and Scientific Understanding of Mental Disorder, part of the 2015 Annual Convention of the Society for the Study of Artificial Intelligence and Simulation of Behaviour (SSAISB)

20-22nd April 2015, University of Kent, Canterbury, United Kingdom

This symposium builds on our two previous symposia on this topic, at the AISB conventions in Exeter (2013) and London (2014).  Our focus is, again, on new perspectives arising from philosophy of mind and psychiatry — most notably from enactive philosophy and supporters of Clark and Chalmers’ extended-mind hypothesis — as well as from cognitive science questioning the traditionally dominant biopsychiatric model with its assumption that mental “illness” either just is physical illness or that it emerges directly from well-defined and physically localized physical processes, in the same way as physical illness.  Although there are a range of perspectives being offered that challenge the traditional model, what most if not all have in common is an inclination to see mental processes as physically realized but not necessarily physically localized in the way that biological processes are.  Too, as represented notably by the solutions focused approach, there is a move away from diagnostic labelling and what might be seen as an over-reliance on psychotropic drugs in favour of whatever improves the subject’s sense of well being at the same time as allowing the person to make the usually expected contribution to society.  In place of pathology, illness, and disease, one finds instead disorder — albeit disorder that takes account of the subject’s interaction with her physical and social environment in an active, border-transgressing way — and, in very many cases, cognitive diversity.  In place of reductionism of mind to brain, one has varieties of non-reductive physicalism where mind extends in various substantive ways into environment, its boundaries subject — to borrow a key phrase from Clark — to constant re-negotiation. In place of aspirin-like mitigation or masking of symptoms, one has a re-examination of underlying causal factors; in place of a simple linear causal model, one has a far more complex picture involving circular causality and a great deal of irreducible interaction.

What was a number of scattered dissenting “lone voices” has become an emergent new paradigm.  This interdisciplinary symposium and the field it represents touches on many key themes of the AISB:   the nature of the mind in relationship to its environment, the application of computer models to these matters, the breadth of cognitive science from theoretical philosophical explorations to concrete applications and new directions in treatment.

Call for papers – Submissions must be by full paper or, in the case of poster presentation, abstract, suitably prepared for blind review.  Papers should be kept to a maximum of 5,000 words and intended for presentation in a 25-minute format.  Abstracts should be approximately 500 words.  Submission is via the EasyChair website.

Topics may include but need not be limited to:

–        philosophy of psychiatry
–       computational models of mental health diversities and disorders
–        conceptual schemes and re-conceptualization as they relate to mental health
–        semiotic perspectives on mental health
–        extended-mind hypothesis and mental health
–        empirical philosophy and mental health
–        cognitive science and mental health
–        movement away from pathologizing mental health issues
–        the Solutions Focused approach
–        ethical and political consequences of an extended/enactive approach to mental health issues

 5 January – deadline for submission of full papers and poster abstracts.
24 January – notification of acceptance.
10 April – final versions of papers due for inclusion in the proceedings.

Convention website here. Symposium website (under construction) here.

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