Peter Zachar

Auburn University Montgomery
  •  190
    The classification of emotion and scientific realism
    Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 26 (1-2): 120-138. 2006.
    The scientific study of emotion has been characterized by classification schemes that propose to 'carve nature at the joints.' This article examines several of these classifications, drawn from both the categorical and dimensional perspectives. Each classification is given credit for what it contributes to our understanding, but the dream of a single, all purpose taxonomy of emotional phenomena is called into question. Such hopes are often associated with the carving at the joints metaphor, whic…Read more
  •  111
    Personality Disorders: Moral or Medical Kinds—Or Both?
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 17 (2): 101-117. 2010.
    This article critically examines Louis Charland’s claim that personality disorders are moral rather than medical kinds by exploring the relationship between personality disorders and virtue ethics. We propose that the conceptual resources of virtue theory can inform psychiatry’s thinking about personality disorders, but also that virtue theory as understood by Aristotle cannot be reduced to the narrow domain of ‘the moral’ in the modern sense of the term. Some overlap between the moral domain’s …Read more
  •  82
    The six most essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis: a pluralogue. Part 4: general conclusion
    with Allen Frances, Michael A. Cerullo, John Chardavoyne, Hannah S. Decker, Michael B. First, Nassir Ghaemi, Gary Greenberg, Andrew C. Hinderliter, Warren A. Kinghorn, Steven G. LoBello, Elliott B. Martin, Aaron L. Mishara, Joel Paris, Joseph M. Pierre, Ronald W. Pies, Harold A. Pincus, Douglas Porter, Claire Pouncey, Michael A. Schwartz, Thomas Szasz, Jerome C. Wakefield, G. Scott Waterman, Owen Whooley, and James Phillips
    Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 7 14-. 2012.
    In the conclusion to this multi-part article I first review the discussions carried out around the six essential questions in psychiatric diagnosis – the position taken by Allen Frances on each question, the commentaries on the respective question along with Frances’ responses to the commentaries, and my own view of the multiple discussions. In this review I emphasize that the core question is the first – what is the nature of psychiatric illness – and that in some manner all further questions f…Read more
  •  76
    The removal of pluto from the class of planets and homosexuality from the class of psychiatric disorders: a comparison
    with Kenneth S. Kendler
    Philosophy, Ethics, and Humanities in Medicine 7 4. 2012.
    We compare astronomers' removal of Pluto from the listing of planets and psychiatrists' removal of homosexuality from the listing of mental disorders. Although the political maneuverings that emerged in both controversies are less than scientifically ideal, we argue that competition for "scientific authority" among competing groups is a normal part of scientific progress. In both cases, a complicated relationship between abstract constructs and evidence made the classification problem thorny
  •  65
    Valid Moral Appraisals and Valid Personality Disorders
    with Nancy Nyquist Potter
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 17 (2): 131-142. 2010.
    We are thankful for the opportunity to reflect more on the difficult problem of the relationship between moral evaluations and the construct of personality disorders in response to the commentaries by Mike Martin and Louis Charland. We begin by emphasizing to readers that this important problem is complicated by the different perspectives of the various disciplines involved, especially, philosophy, psychiatry, and psychology. Incredulity, anger, and dismay are among the reactions we encountered …Read more
  •  50
    The Clinical Nature of Personality Disorders: Answering the Neo-Szaszian Critique
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 18 (3): 191-202. 2011.
    When i was in graduate school, I inadvertently walked in on a fellow student taking his comprehensive exams. He was extremely frustrated because two of the questions asked about conceptual issues in personality and personality disorders. This student was not expecting such questions and considered them to be unfair. I knew other students in that same program who would have considered it a gift to get such “interesting” questions. Those clinical and counseling psychologists with theoretical–philo…Read more
  •  45
    Evidence-Based Medicine and Modernism: Still Better Than the Alternatives
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 19 (4): 313-316. 2012.
    Thomas, Bracken, and Timimi (2012) make an important contribution in critiquing the extent to which the profession of psychiatry can be so bureaucratic that patients are treated as problems to be solved in an ‘efficient’ assembly line fashion rather than as individual persons. The trouble with bureaucracies is that they promote a cold and impersonal accounting approach in which critical reflection on purposes is circumvented by decision-making algorithms (Zachar and Bartlett 2009). Psychotherapy…Read more
  •  39
    Has there been Conceptual Progress in The Science of Emotion?
    Emotion Review 2 (4): 381-382. 2010.
    Izard’s claim that the term emotion works well as an adjective is closer to B. F. Skinner’s position than is acknowledged. Based on Izard’s survey of scientists, I argue that the lack of consensus on emotion as a unitary construct could be considered to represent the dissolution of emotions. Given that something similar has happened in biology with the dissolution of the unitary gene construct, this development in psychology may not be as problematic as it initially sounds
  •  28
    Basic emotions and their biological substrates: A nominalistic interpretation
    with S. Bartlett
    Consciousness and Emotion 2 (2): 189-221. 2002.
    The thesis of this article is that an attitude akin to pragmatism is internal to the scientific enterprise itself, and as a result many scientists will make the same types of non-essentialistic interpretations of their subject matter that are made by pragmatists. This is demonstrably true with respect to those scientists who study the biological basis of emotion such as Panksepp, LeDoux, and Damasio. Even though these scientists are also influenced by what cognitive psychologists call the essent…Read more
  •  26
    I critically analyze Kagan’s claim that in order to advance the science of emotion we should abandon the practice of referring to emotions with common folk psychological names, such as fear and anger. Kagan recommends discovering more homogenous constructs that are segregated by the type of evidence used to infer those constructs. He also argues that variable origins, biological implementations, and psychological and sociocultural contexts may combine to create distinct kinds of emotional states…Read more
  •  21
    Why the One and the Many Will Not Go Away
    Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 20 (2): 131-136. 2013.
    The Contrast Between the nomothetic versus the idiographic was popularized in psychology by Gordon Allport (1937). In the early 1930s, Allport made his name by advocating for a quantitative, trait-based approach to the study of personality in contrast with the prevailing case study approach. In doing so, he was following the trend toward greater reliance on measurement in psychology as a whole. Allport, however, had grave doubts about the sufficiency of quantitative measurement for developing an…Read more
  •  18
    The abandonment of latent variables: Philosophical considerations
    Behavioral and Brain Sciences 33 (2-3): 177-178. 2010.
    Cramer et al.'s critique of latent variables implicitly advocates a type of scientific anti-realism which can be extended to many dispositional constructs in scientific psychology. However, generalizing Cramer et al.'s network model in this way raises concerns about its applicability to psychopathology. The model could be improved by articulating why a given cluster of symptoms should be considered disordered
  •  17
    Emotion Review, Volume 14, Issue 1, Page 3-14, January 2022. Advocates for the psychological construction of emotion view themselves as articulating a non-essentialist alternative to basic emotion theory's essentialist notion of affect programs. Psychological constructionists have also argued that holding essentialist assumptions about emotions engenders misconceptions about the psychological constructionist viewpoint. If so, it is important to understand what psychological constructionists mean…Read more
  •  14
    Commentary on four articles in a special issue on “theories of emotion,” comparing the theories with respect to five conceptual contrasts. The first four contrasts are essentialism versus nonessentialism, discriminative versus integrative theories, individual versus social focus, and instrumentalism versus scientific realism. Although scientific psychologists appear to have reached consensus in favor of nonessentialism and they freely use both realist and instrumentalist interpretations, there i…Read more
  •  14
    It is argued that Mason and Capitanio (2012) are not clear on what would count as a “basic emotion,” and their reconstruction appears more geared toward emotionality in general. Their notion that species-typical outcome is the criterion of basicness requires making speculative assumptions about what is expected and average. Suggestions about an epigenetic approach to social construction of emotionality are also offered
  •  13
    A triptych on affective science: Response to the commentary
    Journal of Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology 28 (2): 444-453. 2008.
    Reply by the current authors to the comments made by Jaak Panksepps , James.A. Russell and Louise Sundararajan on the original article by Peter Zachar . I consider the utility of the concept of natural kind, and explore difficulties in applying it reliably. I examine categorical and dimensional approaches to affect with respect to both scientific realism and nominalist approaches to classification. I agree that eliminativist analogies are beneficial but argue that they cannot fully account for t…Read more
  •  12
    Cet article explore la classification des troubles psychiatriques dans la perspective du modèle des espèces pratiques. En nous basant sur certains travaux en philosophie des sciences qui soutiennent que les éléments chimiques et les espèces biologiques ne possèdent pas de véritables essences, nous affirmons que les troubles psychiatriques ne devraient pas être compris, eux non plus, de façon essentialiste. Les troubles psychiatriques sont des « espèces pratiques », non des « espèces naturelles »…Read more