A role for philosophers, sociologists and bioethicists in revising the DSM

/ 2017 | Philosophy, Psychiatry, & Psychology, 24 (3): 187-201 / By Tamara Kayali Browne /


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 which 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.

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