A Role for Philosophers, Sociologists and Bioethicists in Revising the DSM: A Philosophical Case Conference


The recent publication of the latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) was accompanied by heated debate. I argue that part of the reason for these recent controversies is that the process of DSM revision involves making certain value judgments, yet requires a better means for explicitly and expertly addressing these issues. It is important to do so because a) there are certain value-laden questions that science cannot answer but nevertheless need to be addressed in psychiatric classification, and b) the effects of psychiatric classification stretch far and wide. I suggest a means by which the value judgments involved in psychiatric classification can be more systematically and comprehensively examined—by including an independent ethics review panel in the revision process. An ethics review panel could include bioethicists, sociologists, and philosophers of psychiatry who would be in a better position to address these issues.