Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Daniel Weiskopf

Second Advisor

Eddy Nahmias


Researchers attempting to explain and treat psychiatric disorders have long discussed the need for new disorder categories. A common proposal is to develop a causal classification system whereby psychiatric disorders are classified according to the causal processes that produce and sustain them. I evaluate the prospects for causal classification of psychiatric disorders. First, I motivate the need for a causal classification system of psychiatric disorders. Second, I introduce one framework for causal classification, the exemplar model. Third, I examine multiple forms of causal complexity that the exemplar model must successfully navigate if it is to be a viable classification model for psychiatry. I argue that the exemplar model can handle some issues of causal complexity but not others. I conclude that psychiatry should utilize two models of classification, the exemplar model and the network model, because each fulfills some, but not all, of the purposes of classification systems.


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