Seminario del Dpto. de Lógica, Historia y Filosofía de la ciencia (UNED): 13 de abril - 09:30

Sala 0.6, Edificio de Humanidades UNED,Paseo Senda del Rey 7, Madrid

Jonathan Sholl; KU Leuven (

The Muddle of Medicalization: An Historical-Philosophical Analysis

There is a seeming consensus in philosophy and sociology that the problem or threat of medicalization involves the over-extension of medical authority whereby conditions or experiences which were previously considered ‘normal’, or seen as legal or moral problems, are now defined and treated by the institution of medicine. Yet, the practices, problems, and benefits highlighted by these discussions and described under the heading of ‘medicalization’ are rather varied. Moreover, while it is clear that the practice of medicalization was born with the beginnings of organized healing practices, the concept of medicalization arose only
recently to highlight what was seen to be problematic. Hence, the usual descriptions given focus more on how medicalization is going wrong than on showing what it is. In this presentation, I will undertake a philosophical-historical analysis of medicalization to tease apart these different concerns. I will first explore the multiplicity of practices entailed by medicalization with an aim to distinguish between medicalizing and pathologizing. Teasing apart these different aspects will lead to two claims. First, while many authors tend to conflate pathologizing or even ‘disease-mongering’ with medicalization, this confuses the practical and ethical consequences involved in each. Second, teasing apart different aspects of medicalization shows not only that it is rather old, but that it involves the use of multiple ‘medical models’, with much more reliance on social than individual elements than is often recognized. By distinguishing the complexities of medialization we can better determine
the threats and promises this process engenders.

Maël Lemoine; Université François - Rabelais, Tours.  (

What does it take to naturalize a mental disorder?

The last decades have set stage to a naturalization of depression as well as its study as a social construct at the same time. Now is not the time for a new episode of the saga of Science Wars. But the results of social constructivism raise legitimate objections against any philosophical study of the naturalization of depression. Among these: 
1° If naturalization is an epiphenomenon of medicalization, nothing in the former will change the latter, and it is therefore trivial to study naturalization.
2° Biomedical science depends on the social construction that defined,named, categorized its objects in the first place.
3° The naturalization of depression begs the question by assuming that it is a natural fact rather, or more, than anything else.
4° The philosopher’s point of view seems to claim absoluteness (a point of view from nowhere) and philosophy is not clear about the nature, the possible achievements and the limits of its methods. This paper is a preliminary defense of the project of studying the naturalization of depression against these common objections.