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Technological rationality in psychiatry: immanent critique, critical theory, and a pragmatist alternative 

Technological rationality in psychiatry: immanent critique, critical theory, and a pragmatist alternative
Chapter:
Technological rationality in psychiatry: immanent critique, critical theory, and a pragmatist alternative
Source:
Philosophical Perspectives on Technology and Psychiatry
Author(s):

Peter Zachar

and Scott Bartlett

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780199207428.003.0002

The purpose of this chapter is to acknowledge the importance of a critical analysis of technological and algorithmic approaches to problem solving in psychiatry without rejecting the progressive contributions of technology. We argue that there are negative consequences to relying on technological approaches, but technology is not fundamentally alien to our nature. Among the most articulate and insightful opponents of technological rationality were the members of the Frankfurt school of critical social theory. We claim that the critical theorists offered important insights, but they also adopted an overly hostile attitude toward technological reasoning. A less dystopian alternative is found in the pragmatism of Dewey. We describe the advantages of a reflective use of technology in which ‘ends’ are open to renegotiation as situations evolve, and also propose that many important shortcomings of technological approaches are discovered only by users of technology. Examples from the domains of statistical prediction, psychiatric taxonomy, and evidence-based medicine are explored.

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