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Action and Value in Criminal Law$
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Stephen Shute, John Gardner, and Jeremy Horder

Print publication date: 1993

Print ISBN-13: 9780198258063

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198258063.001.0001

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Value, Action, Mental Illness, and the Law

Value, Action, Mental Illness, and the Law

(p.279) Value, Action, Mental Illness, and the Law
Action and Value in Criminal Law


Oxford University Press

The extraordinary range of the phenomena of mental illness is often neglected in discussions on the relationship between law and psychiatry. This chapter starts with an outline of these phenomena. These amount to what the philosopher Gilbert Ryle would have called a map of the ‘logical geography’. Standard accounts of mental illness — fact/function accounts — are shown to be inconsistent with certain important features of this map. Adding the elements of value and action-failure, on the other hand, provides a more consistent account. In the context of this more complete, or ‘full-field’ theory of mental illness, the significance of these two elements — value and action-failure — for our understanding of the relationship between law and psychiatry is then explored. Broadly, a full-field theory of mental illness is shown to bridge the conceptual divide between the two disciplines, this in turn providing a basis for improved communication at the level of day-to-day practice. These results are achieved, however, only at the cost of facing squarely the metaphysical difficulties that underpin practice in this area. It is argued that in tackling these difficulties, philosophy and psychiatry should move towards a closer working partnership of the kind which already exists between psychiatry and science.

Keywords:   mental illness, law, psychiatry, value, action-failure, philosophy

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