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To analyse this argument, we need to be clear on the proposition that the author is

advocating. The blog is explicitly arguing that “we need to get better at critiquing
psychiatric diagnosis”. There are two ways of understanding this statement which, I
believe, has caused some confusion in the debate following the publication of
Vaughan’s blog. Firstly, it could be understood as a circumspect proposition that
there are some bad arguments against psychiatric diagnosis. There is evidence of
this interpretation from Vaughan’s defence of his blog on Twitter when he says that
he is “just tackling some bad arguments” and “only addressing bad arguments”.
Therefore, we are justified in attributing to Vaughan a narrow proposition that some
critical mental health arguments need sharpening.
If Vaughan is restricting himself to this meaning of the proposition then it represents
a rather limited challenge to those who criticise diagnosis. It’s a truism to say that
there are bad arguments for and against almost any proposition. To illustrate this
point, we could to take an example from politics that echoes more polemic positions
on diagnosis. We could justifiably claim that, “there are some bad arguments against
totalitarianism”. Of course, I could look in the literature and find some bad
arguments, and critique them in detail. However, without attending to stronger
arguments (for example, those of Hannah Arendt, Isaiah Berlin or Michel Foucault) I
am not constructing a robust challenge against those who defend totalitarian
thought. The much more challenging proposition, is that arguments against
totalitarianism, which are commonly assented to be strong, are flawed.
When Vaughan says that “we need to get better at critiquing psychiatric diagnosis”, I
suggest that he is trying to make a stronger point. This more challenging proposition
would be that the approach to criticising diagnosis needs to be improved. There is
evidence that Vaughan wants to draw wider conclusions when he says that “we
should be working for a better and more equitable approach to mental health”, asks
“how we can critique diagnosis more effectively”, and claims that “we’d be better off if
we treated diagnoses more like tools, and less like ideologies.” However, in order for
an audience to be persuaded of a stronger proposition, they need to be presented
with arguments that the strongest positions also fall short. In addition, refuting the
strongest arguments against diagnosis is also essential for people like myself who
may not be aware of the broad literature on mental health. As a trainee psychologist,
I want to learn from more experienced service users, academics and clinicians. I
expect the debates to represent and select the strongest arguments both for and
against a position so that I can make up my own mind. This form of argumentative
virtue is essential for moving our debates in mental health forward.
In conclusion, then, either Vaughan is making a very well argued but rather limited
assertion that some people make poor arguments against diagnosis, or a less well
defended but more challenging argument that there is something limited about the
general approach to arguing against diagnosis. I think that he wants us to accept the
latter but only gives reasons for believing the former.
Commentary on a thoughtful critique by the excellent @vaughanbell, @mindhacksblog; I believe that his argument is
either too limited to represent a genuinely progressive challenge or commits the fallacy
of a straw man by selection:

Michael Sandel’s critique of liberal democracy is considered to be a classic example of

strong critical philosophy, which actually caused John Rawls to reconstruct his argument
for justice strong. He took on John Rawls whose .

There are some arguments against diagnosis

(“”), there is substantial evidence in the blog of Vaughan relating those arguments to
something wider: “I want to tackle some of these before going on to suggest. I’m going
to be referencing the DSM-5 but the examples I mention apply more widely”; “We
should be working for a better and more equitable approach to mental health – and that
includes respectful and conscious awareness of the wider implications of our actions”;
and “I think

This article is an attempt to persuade an audience to accept a wider statement. Including

the title of tweet There is an assumption in these statements that critiques of diagnosis
are not effective, that they are treated like ideologies otherwise why would need for
them to be more effective?

Proposition: There are some weak arguments for psychiatric diagnosis.

“There are no biological tests for psychiatric diagnoses”
“Psychiatric diagnoses ‘label distress'”
“Psychiatric diagnoses are not reliable”
“Psychiatric diagnoses are not valid because they are decided by a committee”
“Psychiatric diagnoses are not valid because they’re based on experience, behaviour or value
“Psychiatric diagnosis isn’t valid because of the following reasons…”

However, only tackling bad arguments can only demonstrate that those authors’
arguments need to be better. He does this successfully but this is a limited proposition.
Additionally, if this was true then I might suggest that Vaughan should have given his
blog a more circumspect title, such as: “There are some weak arguments against
psychiatric diagnosis.”

These are demonstrably wider claims about a state of affairs in mental health. In
addition, they are being marshalled in an article stating that “we need to get better at
critiquing psychiatric diagnosis”. Any thoughts,

@AnneCooke14, @cyberwhispers, @sameerjauhar, @ClinpsychLucy, @SameiHuda,
@huwtube, @SteWeatherhead, @RichardBentall, @peterkinderman?

there are some bad arguments against psychiatric diagnosis

the approach to criticising diagnosis needs to be improved