Reductionism is usually taken for granted in many areas of science, neuroscience and psychology being no exceptions. It is often assumed as scientific orthodoxy that human behavior can be reduced to “what the brain does” without recourse to a consideration of cognition.
Although many philosophers and ethicists may seek to reduce or eliminate the concept of mind, other philosophers and ethicists have continually pointed out the logical inconsistencies of such an approach. Via a discussion of efficient and final causes in Aristotelian philosophy, I seek to
argue that the understanding of human beings as rational and social creatures has guided and should continue to guide our approach to the care and treatment of the mentally ill. Observations concerning rational behavior and cognition, by necessity, have provided the benchmarks by which clinicians
evaluate the effectiveness of somatic/pharmacological or psychological/ behavioral interventions: Eliminative reductionism is inappropriate in this area. In approaching issues pertaining to the relationship between human cognitive functioning and neural functioning, the distinction between
capacity and vehicle will be used. However, the fact that mental and behavioral functioning can alter neuronal functioning (and vice versa) necessitates that those working with the mentally ill need to know both the efficient causes—the vehicles of certain capacities—and the role
of the capacities themselves and how they relate to possible final causes in giving explanations for behavior. These issues become more significant when considering the ethics of treatment choice for those with mental disorders.
Ethical Human Psychology and Psychiatry seeks to raise the level of scientific knowledge and ethical discourse, while empowering professionals who are devoted to principled human sciences and services unsullied by professional and economic interests.