Reinier Schuur

Reinier Schuur

Department of Philosophy
Doctoral researcher

Contact details

  • PhD title: The problem of normativity and concept validity in psychiatric research
  • Supervisors: Lisa Bortolotti 


New directions in research have taken place since the NIMH has announced that it will reorient funding away from the DSM towards a new framework for research, the Research Domain Criteria (RDoC). RDoC will take a dimensional approach to researching mental disorders, across traditional DSM categories, and along various domains of functions and units of analysis (ranging from genetic factors, neural circuits, to self-reports and cognitions), in order to elucidate the underlying mechanisms of symptoms, their onset, and their causal trajectories. The hope is that this new framework will yield a better understanding of mental disorders in terms of basic research sciences (especially neuroscience and genomics), which can form the basis for a neuroscience informed classification systems and improved methods for treating mental disorders.

Many criticisms have been made of this new framework. In my research I will focus on the problem of normativity facing the RDoC. This is the problem of distinguishing mental disorders from non-disorders. I will argue that a theory of normativity is required in order to inform empirical research on what constitutes genuine mental disorders, as this cannot be defined through neuroscientific means alone. Much of my research will thus focus on which theory of normativity is most suited for this purpose.