Madness, Disorder, and Society
International Graduate Conference in Philosophy 2016
- Location: University of Essex, Colchester
- Date: 7 May 2016
About the conference
We are pleased to announce that the theme for this year's Essex International
Graduate Conference in Philosophy will be 'Madness, Disorder and Society'. The
conference seeks to bring together different philosophical perspectives on madness and disorder,
especially when considered in their social contexts. It will be held on 7 May 2016, and keynote
addresses will be given by Derek Bolton (Kings College London) and Lorna Finlayson (University of Essex).
The mad have always challenged society. Beginning in the 1960s however, the anti-psychiatry
movement began to systematically confront psychiatric institutions and their wider social
contexts by raising what were essentially philosophical questions. This movement challenged
the validity of psychiatric diagnosis, the purported boundaries between the sane and the
insane, and the very idea of mental illness.
In turn, psychiatry hit back, adopting a biomedical, evidence-based approach and an
ever-increasing standardisation of psychiatric classifications. This has given rise to
a new paradigm regarding how we understand the mad and the disordered, and today there
are now more psychiatric classifications than ever before.
Nonetheless, in more recent years the neurodiversity movement has called for a full
affirmation of a wide array of natural variance in human functioning. This more radical
move challenges deeper assumptions regarding both what it means to be human, and in turn
to function or flourish as such, in a way that may undermine even the biomedical approach
designed to avoid these very issues.
From a more top-down perspective, further questions arise. Most notably, if we are
mistaken in some way, about the pathological status of the mad and disordered, this
further calls into question the status of those considered normal. From Nietzsche to
critical theory, thinkers have suggested that it may in fact be that society is sick,
and that at least some of those who fall outside its norms may have good reason to do so.
Lastly, on the ground level, an ever-increasing number of dangerous designer drugs
and bizarre therapies are now produced and sold in order to restore those on the outskirts
back to the realm of normalcy. This raises yet further ethical questions regarding both
the treatment of those considered mad or disordered, and in turn the institutions that
profit from them.
4 May 2016
Adobe PDF File
Conference programme and abstracts for ‘Madness, Disorder, and Society’ -
International Graduate Conference in Philosophy 2016, University of Essex, 7 May 2016.
Registration is free. To register please email firstname.lastname@example.org
with the subject “MDS Registration”. Please include your name, email address, and institution (if applicable).
If you wish to attend the meal, this costs extra as it is at a nearby restaurant. Please say if you want us to book you a place.
On the day
Registration will take place from 9.30am - 10.00am in the senate room (4.722), which is located in the psychology building
on Square 1 of the Colchester Campus. There will be signposts around campus directing you towards the conference.
Location and accessibility
The conference takes place at our University's Colchester Campus.
Colchester is an hour away from London by train.
Our MA courses offer in-depth study of a range of specialisms including critical theory,
phenomenology and classical German philosophy, and are an excellent preparation for PhD study.
By undertaking PhD study at Essex, you will become a member of an exciting and active research community, and benefit from the expert supervision of
our internationally recognised staff.
Apply for a PhD studentship for your doctoral study funded by the
Consortium for Humanities and the Arts South-East England (CHASE) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).
Ethics of Powerlessness
The Ethics of Powerlessness project aims to clarify ethical challenges of experiences of powerlessness, especially in palliative and end-of-life care situations,
and is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).