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Euthanasia, assisted dying, and assisted suicide in palliative care settings: reports from the Netherlands, Switzerland, and Washington State (TH323)

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>02/2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Pain and Symptom Management
Issue number2
Number of pages2
Pages (from-to)326-327
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date27/01/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English


In somatic medicine, diagnostic terms often refer to the disease processes that are the causes of patients' symptoms. The language used in some clinical textbooks and health information resources suggests that this is also sometimes assumed to be the case with diagnoses in psychiatry. However, this seems to be in tension with the ways in which psychiatric diagnoses are defined in diagnostic manuals, according to which they refer solely to clusters of symptoms. This paper explores how theories of reference in the philosophy of language can help to resolve this tension. After the evaluation of descriptive and causal theories of reference, I put forward a conceptual framework based on two-dimensional semantics that allows the causal analysis of diagnostic terms in psychiatry, while taking seriously their descriptive definitions in diagnostic manuals. While the framework is presented as a solution to a problem regarding the semantics of psychiatric diagnoses, it can also accommodate the analysis of diagnostic terms in other medical disciplines.