The matching problem for evolutionary psychiatry

Maung, H.H. (2024) The matching problem for evolutionary psychiatry. Philosophical Psychology. ISSN 0951-5089

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Evolutionary psychiatry suggests that mental disorders can be explained in evolutionary terms (a) as failures of psychological mechanisms to produce the adaptive effects for which they were naturally selected, (b) as mismatches between naturally selected psychological mechanisms and contemporary environmental pressures, or (c) as naturally selected psychological mechanisms whose effects continue to be adaptive. In this paper, I present a philosophical critique of evolutionary psychiatry that draws on Subrena Smith’s matching problem for evolutionary psychology. For evolutionary psychiatry hypotheses to be empirically supported, proponents of evolutionary psychiatry must demonstrate (1) that the contemporary psychological mechanisms involved in mental disorders resemble the psychological mechanisms of our evolutionary ancestors, (2) that the contemporary psychological mechanisms are phylogenetically descended from the ancestral psychological mechanisms, and (3) that the ancestral psychological mechanisms were naturally selected because their effects had adaptive benefits. However, for many mental disorders, evolutionary psychiatry lacks the methodological resources to demonstrate these conditions. Therefore, many evolutionary psychiatry hypotheses are empirically untestable and remain indefinitely underdetermined by data.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Philosophical Psychology
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? philosophyapplied psychology ??
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Deposited On:
23 May 2024 08:30
Last Modified:
24 May 2024 03:05