Kinds of Kinds: A Conceptual Taxonomy of Psychiatric Categories

A pluralistic view of psychiatric classification is defended, according to which psychiatric categories take a variety of structural forms. An ordered taxonomy of these forms—non-kinds, practical kinds, fuzzy kinds, discrete kinds, and natural kinds—is presented and exemplified. It is argued that psychiatric categories cannot all be understood as pragmatically grounded, and at least some reflect naturally occurring discontinuities without thereby representing natural kinds. Even if essentialist accounts of mental disorders are generally mistaken, they are not implied whenever a psychiatric category that is not pragmatically grounded is posited.