Mind, Value and Mental Health: Conference in Philosophy and Psychiatry

Course summary

Mind, Value and Mental Health: Conference in Philosophy and Psychiatry


This conference is linked with the 3rd Oxford Summer School in Philosophy and Psychiatry (13-14 July 2017)

2nd International Conference in Philosophy and Psychiatry: 15 July 2017

A one-day international conference delivered by renowned experts in the field through keynote lectures.

This will appeal to philosophers, scientists, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals, and service users. Both the international conference and the summer school are led by members of Oxford's Faculty of Philosophy.

Venue: St Hilda's College, Oxford - a fabulous setting with excellent residential facilities and ideal for networking.

Course directors:

The events will be led by members of the Oxford Faculty of Philosophy and postholders in other related fields: 

Programme details

Keynote lectures delivered by international speakers:

Thrive:  The Power of Psychological Therapies to Transform Lives 

David M. Clark Professor and Chair of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford

Epictetus is credited with the view that “Men are not disturbed by things but by the view they take of them”. Modern psychological therapies, especially cognitive-behaviour therapy (CBT),  take this stoic’s view to heart and aim to help people overcome disabling emotional disorders by using socratic questioning and behavioural experiments to help them correct excessively negative/unhelpful patterns of thinking. This talk starts by describing some of the key procedures that are used in CBT. Evidence for the effectiveness of the treatment is briefly reviewed, along with studies that have looked at why it works. Does it really work by changing negative beliefs? Finally, we consider the gap between research and public benefit. In most Western countries only a small fraction of people who could benefit from evidence-based psychological therapies ever have an opportunity to do so. The NHS’ Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme attempts to overcome this problem in England. IAPT currently treats over 550,000 people each year. We look at the combined economic and clinical arguments on which it is based and consider what it has achieved so far. 

Epistemic Violence and the Social Imaginary: Patient Voices and Mechanisms of Silencing in Psychiatry

Nancy Nyquist PotterProfessor of Philosophy, University of Louisville 

Truth commissions, trauma studies, and critical race theories emphasize the importance of centering the experiences and voices of victims in order to understand the impact of structural injustice and violence. In a somewhat similar vein, service-user movements highlight the centrality of attending to service users/patients’ voices in order to provide good and ethical treatment. But even well-meaning clinicians may inadvertently silence service users/patients. The question this paper addresses is how this problem occurs, and what can be done about it. Drawing upon two recently introduced concepts from philosophical theorizing, epistemic violence and the social imaginary, I identify some more subtle ways that service users/patients become silenced while in clinical encounters. Epistemic violence is ‘a failure of an audience to communicatively reciprocate, either intentionally or unintentionally, in linguistic exchanges owning to pernicious ignorance’ (Dotson). It is a grave concerns in that it damages the communicator’s confidence in her beliefs and her confidence in herself as a knower; it undermines her sense of herself as an epistemic agent; it hinders the development of intellectual courage (Dotson) and it ‘excludes the subject from trustful conversation’ (Fricker). Dotson discusses two practices of silencing that are forms of epistemic violence, which I apply to the clinical setting using case studies. I then explain Code’s conception of the social imaginary as both instituted and instituting, suggestion how we can engage in an instituting social imaginary in order to shift away from practices of silencing and toward giving uptake to others.

Remedies from Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy

Jennifer RaddenProfessor Emerita of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts Boston

Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy (1621) provides a compendium of remedies against melancholy moods and dispositions. The regulation of exercise, fresh air, sleep, diet, evacuation, and feelings, believed to together keep the bodily humors in healthy balance, demanded habits that were essential accompaniments to one another and to other measures, and only effective when combined. It was preventive medicine: thought to anticipate and ward off the symptoms of melancholy before they became entrenched and difficult to treat. And it was self help: adhering to the regime was for the most part the individual’s own responsibility.

These remedial principles seem sensible and unsurprising to us; in various alternative and conventional medical settings, and in one form or another, they are often prescribed for today’s mood disorders of depression and anxiety. What is surprising is their theoretical foundation, as we can piece it together from the confusion of humoural, religious and otherwise distracting claims in the Anatomy. Underlying and supporting Burton’s recommendations, I want to show, were ideas about melancholy understood as disease that are quite contrary to today’s orthodox medical conceptions of mental disorder. Inasmuch as  ‘common cause’ etiological models, and ‘magic bullet,’ or single-remedy, assumptions are eschewed in Burton’s habit-based account, it instead fits the new network models recently proposed by researchers. His emphasis on the combination of prevention (in the strongest sense of averting or avoiding initial episodes as well as reducing subsequent ones), the multi-factorial feature of these remedies, and self-help through healthy ‘lifestyle’ habits, represent a significant corollary to these network models, deserving further attention.

Interpersonal Experience and the Sense of Reality 

Matthew RatcliffeProfessor of Theoretical Philosophy, University of Vienna

I begin by defining the “sense of reality” as the ordinarily pre-reflective ability to distinguish between types of intentional state, such as perceiving, imagining, and remembering. Then I propose that many of those phenomena labeled as “delusions” and “hallucinations” consist of disturbances in the sense of reality. For instance, the content of an imagining might be associated with the sense that one is perceiving. Following this, I develop a case for the view that the structure of intentionality depends for its integrity on ways of relating to other people and to the social world as a whole. Consequently, disturbances in the sense of reality are, at the same time, disturbances of interpersonal experience and relatedness. This is consistent with findings that point to a causal link between interpersonal trauma and psychosis, and helps us to understand the relationships between the two. 


Short presentations from graduate students and those who have recently completed their doctoral studies:

Causal Inference in the Clinical Setting: Why the Mechanisms of Mindreading Matter

Andrew Cameron Sims

The Phenomenology of Sociality, Identification and Agency in Depression

Anya Daly 

Me, Myself, and I: Phenomenological Analysis of the Operative Concept of Self in Child/Adolescent Psychiatry and Adult Psychiatry

Patrick Seniuk 

Please note that the conference and summer school programme may be subject to change.


The conference will take place at St Hilda’s College, Oxford with stunning grounds running down to the River Cherwell and beautiful views over the Botanic Gardens, Christ Church Meadow and the spires of the city.

Limited standard bed and breakfast accommodation (rooms contain a washbasin and have the use of shared bathrooms) is available at a rate of £42.50 per night on 14 and 15 July. Further nights may be available, please contact us for details.

Alternatively it is possible to book bed and breakfast accommodation at other colleges.


Conference fee: 15 July: £160.00
Conference drinks and dinner: £39.00
Standard accommodation: 14 July: £42.50
Standard accommodation: 15 July: £42.50


Conference fee (£160) includes:

  • Attendance at all sessions on 15 July
  • Certificate of Attendance on successful completion
  • Lunch and refreshments
  • Internet access

Optional extras:

  • Conference drinks reception and dinner: £39
  • Standard accommodation: £42.50 per night, includes breakfast: 14 and 15 July

Summer school and conference packages are available to book via the Summer School page.


Dr Edward Harcourt


Edward Harcourt has been a member of the Oxford Philosophy Faculty and a Fellow of Keble College since 2005. His research is in ethics, in particular in moral psychology, and he has published on topics including neo-Aristotelianism and child development, the ethical dimensions of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy, the moral emotions, love and the virtues, Nietzsche's ethics, the philosophy of mental health and mental illness, literature and philosophy, and Wittgenstein.

From 2010-15 he convened the Meaning and Mindedness: Encounters between Philosophy and Psychoanalysis seminars at the Tavistock Clinic, London. He was Principal Investigator of the Wellcome/ISSF project ‘Therapeutic Conflicts: Co-Producing Meaning in Mental Health’(2014-16) and of the AHRC network ‘The Development of Character: Attachment Theory and the Moral Psychology of Vice and Virtue’ (2016-17). He served until recently as Chair of the Oxford Philosophy Faculty Board and is currently on secondment as Director of Research, Strategy and Innovation at the Arts and Humanities Research Council.

Dr Anita Avramides


Anita Avramides was born in New York City. She attended Packer Collegiate Institute, in Brooklyn and then Oberlin College, in Ohio, where she majored in Philosophy. After a year of working and studying in Paris, she attended University College London where she received her M. Phil. in philosophy. She received her D. Phil from Somerville and Queen’s Colleges in Oxford. In 1990 she was appointed to the Southover Manor Trust Fellowship in Philosophy at St. Hilda’s College in Oxford, and in 2008 she was made a Reader in the Philosophy of Mind in the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University.

Professor Martin Davies


Martin Davies is Wilde Professor of Mental Philosophy at the University of Oxford and a Fellow of Corpus Christi College. He was Wilde Reader in Mental Philosophy from 1993 to 2000 and then took up a Professorship in the Research School of Social Sciences at the Australian National University, returning to Oxford in 2006. Before coming to Oxford for the first time, as a BPhil and then DPhil student at New College, he studied philosophy and mathematics at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. After completing his doctorate, he taught at the University of Essex for a year and was then a Fellow by Examination at Magdalen College Oxford before moving in 1981 to Birkbeck College London.

Martin Davies’s research interests are in philosophy of mind and philosophy of cognitive science, with recent work on delusions including anosognosia for motor impairments, the methodology of cognitive neuropsychology, and consciousness, and empirical collaborations on the illusion of self-touch (a version of the rubber hand illusion), inattentional blindness, and motion-induced blindness. He is a Fellow of both the Academy of the Social Sciences in Australia and the Australian Academy of the Humanities.

Professor Bill Fulford


KWM (Bill) Fulford is a Fellow of St Catherine’s College and Member of the Philosophy Faculty, University of Oxford; and Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Mental Health, University of Warwick Medical School. His previous posts include Honorary Consultant Psychiatrist, University of Oxford, and Special Adviser for Values-Based Practice in the Department of Health. Bill has led on a number of key academic and administrative developments in the philosophy of psychiatry and has published widely in this field, including Moral Theory and Medical Practice and co-authoring The Oxford Textbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry. He is Lead Editor for the Oxford book series International Perspectives in Philosophy and Psychiatry, and Founder and Co-editor with John Sadler of the international journal Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology (PPP), which he founded in 1993. His recent publications include the launch volume for a book series from Cambridge University Press on Values-based Practice - Fulford, KWM, Peile, EP and Carroll, H., Essential Values-based Practice: Clinical Stories Linking Science with People (2012, Cambridge University Press). He is the lead editor for the Oxford Handbook of Philosophy and Psychiatry (published 2013).

Professor David M Clark


Professor Clark’s research focuses on cognitive approaches to anxiety disorders, and integrates experimental and clinical studies. This work has led to the development of new cognitive therapy programmes for a range of anxiety disorders, which have been endorsed by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence...more

Professor Nancy Nyquist Potter


Professor Potter is an expert in the field of philosophy and psychiatry and serves on the Executive Council of the Association for the Advancement of Philosophy and Psychiatry. Her current interests concern the relationship between voice, silencing, and uptake for patients living with mental illness...more

Professor Matthew Ratcliffe


Professor Ratcliffe is Professor for Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Vienna, Austria. Most of his recent work addresses issues in phenomenology, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of psychiatry. He is author of Rethinking Commonsense Psychology: A Critique of Folk Psychology, Theory of Mind and Simulation (Palgrave, 2007), Feelings of Being: Phenomenology, Psychiatry and the Sense of Reality (Oxford University Press, 2008), Experiences of Depression: A Study in Phenomenology (Oxford University Press, 2015), and Real Hallucinations: Psychiatric Illness, Intentionality, and the Interpersonal World (MIT Press, 2017). 

Professor Jennifer Radden


Jennifer Radden is a Professor Emerita of Philosophy at the University of Massachusetts Boston. She received degrees in philosophy and psychology at Melbourne University and holds a doctorate from Oxford. She has published extensively on mental health concepts, the history of medicine, and ethical and policy aspects of psychiatric theory and practice. Her books include Madness and Reason (1986), Divided Minds and Successive Selves: Ethical Issues in Disorders of Identity and Personality (1996), Moody Minds Distempered: Essays on Melancholy and Depression (2009), and The Virtuous Psychiatrist: Character Ethics in Psychiatric Practice, co-authored with Dr John Sadler (2010), and On Delusion (2011), as well as two collections of which she was editor, The Nature of Melancholy (2000) and Oxford Companion to the Philosophy of Psychiatry (2004). Most recently, Melancholy Habits: Burton’s Anatomy for the Mind Sciences (Oxford University Press) was published in 2017.


Final numbers have now been given to the venue. Please email conferences@conted.ox.ac.uk if you would still like to attend and we will see if we can accommodate you.

Level and demands

This conference will appeal to a wide range of people with a professional and/or academic interest in the fields of philosophy and/or mental health.